Tight hamstrings can have a huge impact on mobility and flexibility. Try these simple tips to nurture and open up the backs of your legs and improve flexibility.
Trigger point therapy on feet
The plantar fascia on the soles of our feet affect the entire back of our body through the connective tissue. So taking a few moments to use a massage ball to roll out under our feet each morning will help hydrate the fascia and improve our hamstring flexibility. For the ultimate trigger point therapy, check out our ZONE By Lydia massage balls HERE.
Disengage the muscles
Even with the best intentions, when we are stretching by pulling and forcing our body into the hamstrings, we are teaching our body to feel stress and resistance. If we softly lean into the sensation and practice breathing to disengage and loosen the muscles then our body will deepen into the postures organically, without any stiffness afterward.
Our flexibility is governed by our nervous system, if our body thinks we are moving into a position that might cause damage, it sends signals to that muscle to not allow us any further, because we haven't stretched that far before and it wants to protect us. If we use the breath to relax our body and signal to our nervous system that it is okay, we can soften a little more deeply. Each time you calmly discover a new depth is a way of telling your body that it's okay to release the muscles and allow the stretch the next time you try that position.
Use Yin yoga or long stretches
Yoga is fantastic at opening the body, and holding poses for several breaths will help to open up tight hamstrings because the muscles have time to adapt and explore the sensations. Yin Yoga holds poses for 3-5 minutes so that you can experience the depth of each position and allow the body to loosen up.
Do something every day
Even if you don't have time for a full stretch routine, if tight hamstrings hold you back then it's important to prioritise this area and spend even just a few breaths each day in a forward fold that feels nourishing and opening for the area.
Don't force it!
Hamstrings are particularly vulnerable to injury, especially if you are not properly warmed up. Move into all stretches mindfully and use your breath to go deeper, rather than sheer force!
Here are some tips to release and stretch this area:
💠 Assisted forward fold - Warm up the area using blocks or a chair as support for an assisted forward fold.
💠 Forward fold - As you feel more comfortable you can release into a standing forward fold, letting the head relax and nodding and shaking the head slowly to ensure your neck isn't tense.
💠 Pyramid stretch - Stepping one foot forward and making sure the feet are wider than your hips, you can stretch the hamstrings gently by keeping your hips in line as you fold over a straight front leg.
💠 Half splits - Try using the breath to flow here, inhaling to find a lunge pose and straightening the front leg as you exhale and melt the hips towards the back heel. After a few breaths in flow, you can hold in half splits for 5 - 10 breaths, using the back knee as support.
💠 Wide leg forward fold - Awaken your inner thighs with this stretch. Start gradually, using blocks for support and slowly fold as mobility and flexibility increases over time.