Stretch of the Week: Hamstring Stretches

by allylofgren | 2 Comments

Welcome to the stretch of the week blog! This weekly blog is intended to expose you to different stretches that will help make the body more functional and to help reduce pain, which will hopefully help you live a happier healthier life! These stretches will have a yoga origin.

Rachel Lackowski Athletico Massage Therapist
Rachel Lackowski
Athletico Massage Therapist

This weekly blog will show you the “right” and safe way to stretch, so that no harm will happen to the body, but please keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. Listen to your body and back off the stretch if you feel pain (this is different than a strong stretch feeling). Please use the modifications that are provided with each stretch. If you have questions about a particular post, please feel free to email me at rlackowski@athletico.com and I will do my best to guide you through the stretch!

This months theme will be focused on stretching the hamstrings. So many of us sit down for long periods of time that these muscles in the back of the legs get shortened over time. The hamstring stretches this month will target these muscles and help to lengthen them. Sometimes tight hamstrings can make the glute muscles (in the butt) tight and that can travel Into the low back causing pain. In most instances, If these stretches are done correctly and a couple of times a week, it will help to alleviate this pain. A great side effect of these stretches is that you will most likely be able to touch your toes after a while, who doesn’t want to be able to do that!?! So here we go, happy stretching!

Week 1: Hamstring Stretches/Reclining Big Toe

You will most likely need a strap or belt of some kind, unless you are open in the hamstrings and can comfortably grab the big toe. Great stretch to start or end any workout with!

Lie on your back on the floor, legs strongly extended. If your head doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it on a folded blanket, or a towel. Exhale, bend the left knee, and draw the thigh into your chest. Hug the thigh to your front body. Press the front of the right thigh heavily to the floor, and push actively through the right heel.

Loop a strap around the ball mound (right under the toes) of the left foot and hold the strap in the left hand. Inhale and straighten the knee, pressing the left heel up toward the ceiling. Walk your hand up the strap until the arm is fully extended. Your other hand can rest on the floor beside you. Relax the shoulder blades across your back. Keeping the hand as high on the strap as possible, press the shoulder blades lightly into the floor, But keep the neck relaxed. Widen the collarbones keeping the chest open.

Extend up first through the back of the left heel, and once the back of the leg between the heel and sitting bone is fully straight, lift through the ball of the big toe. Begin with the raised leg perpendicular to the floor. Release the head of the thigh bone more deeply into the pelvis and, as you exhale, draw the foot a little closer to your head, increasing the stretch on the back of the leg.

Hamstring Stretches

Hold this stretch anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes or so, then slowly release. Switch to the other leg.

 Beginner’s Tip:

If you are especially stiff, do this pose with the bottom-leg heel pressed against a wall as shown in the photo. Not recommended if you have a headache or high blood pressure.

For additional stretches and tips, follow Rachel on Instagram YOGINI_RACHEL and check out Part II here.

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