Whether you are doing yoga, running, walking, or biking, you know how challenging it can be to perform any exercise well if you have a problem with your hamstrings. For any activity that requires leg and hamstring work, it would be best to counter the tightness caused by contracting the hamstrings by doing stretches that will help to loosen the muscles.
1. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
This pose requires you to lie on your back on the floor while keeping it straight to receive good support, so it is a great way to increase your hamstrings flexibility without straining your lumbar spine. The classical version will require you to grasp your big toe, but you will usually have to use a belt or strap initially when you are still learning and mastering this pose.
- When doing this pose for the first few times, you might not feel the head of the thigh bone releasing into the pelvis. Keep your breath smooth and steady, bring your awareness to the thigh of your raised leg, and as you relax you may begin to feel your leg release and relax downward.
- Use a strap or belt, be patient, and make any other necessary adjustments so you are not pushing yourself too hard. Your body will become more flexible in due time.
2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
When you need a break from standing poses that use a lot of energy, effort, and strength, this pose gives you a welcome rest because you can hang down, relax, and let it all go. And the best way to allow your body to really relax is by releasing your hamstrings. Uttanasana stretches your hamstrings on the back of your thighs and the quadriceps on the front of your thighs. This pose also revitalizes you because blood rushes to your head while you are bending down since it is lower than your heart, so oxygen is spread throughout your cells making you rejuvenated.
- When doing this pose, you should be positioned so that the hamstrings can relax and lengthen into the stretch and not contract or tighten. You can use the triangulation technique so you can locate and deepen the stretch.
- Allow your muscles to acclimate to being stretched since tightness in the hamstrings can limit the depth of your forward bend.
3. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Stance Forward Bend)
You will not only strengthen and stretch your inner and back leg muscles when doing this pose, you will also calm your mind, tone your abdominal organs, and relieve mild back pain. However, those with tight hamstrings and lower back pain should use modifications.
- Beginners for this pose will most likely not be able to touch the crown of their head to the floor in the last stage. Use a padded block, bolster, or thickly folded blanket or towel to support your head.
- If your hands don’t reach the floor, you can use blocks under your hands or walk your feet wider.
Remember to use a step-by-step guide from professional yoga instructors or to join a good class to learn the proper way of doing all these poses and avoiding damage to your hamstrings and the rest of your body.