Everybody is susceptible to tight hamstrings, from professional athletes to soccer moms. People who spend long hours sitting at a desk or who have rigorous training schedules can especially benefit from a “hammie” stretch or two (or three or four).
In the simplest of terms, the hamstrings are a group of three muscles that run from the “sit” bones and extend down to the knee. They dominate the back of the thigh and are responsible for flexing and bending the knee.
Your hamstrings can get shorter or “tight” when you sit too much or when you over train your quads without counter stretching. When this happens, the hamstrings begin to pull down on the “sit” bones, making the pelvis and hips tight and flattening the low back curvature in your lumbar area. This scenario can create the following ailments:
- An increased risk of herniated disc
- Overuse and strain of the lumbar (low) spine
- Low back pressure
- Weakened abdominals
- Unstable low back
- Increased risk of strain and tearing injuries to the hamstrings
Desk yoga for tight hamstrings
To stretch your hamstrings at your desk, follow this sequence:
1. Sit up tall in your chair and elongate your back.
2. Bend your left leg so that your left foot is flat to the floor for stability.
3. Extend your right leg, gently flexing the right foot.
4. Keeping your spine flat, gently reach for your right foot with both hands
5. Hold for 5-8 breaths, then switch sides.
Mat yoga for tight hamstrings
To stretch your hamstrings on your yoga mat, try these yoga poses:
- Seated Forward Bend
- Standing Forward Bend
- Wide-Legged Forward Bend
- Standing Forward Bend against the wall
- Plow Pose with straight legs
- Pigeon Pose
- Lay on your back with one foot in the air and a strap around your foot