7 Poses To Release Tight Hamstrings

Yoga For Tight Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings—as with other aches, pains and limited range of motion that you experience as a mountain biker—do not, unfortunately, have one simple cause and solution. And as you may have already discovered, regularly stretching tight hamstrings does not actually get you much closer to touching your toes.

When you stretch chronically tight or overactive muscles without correcting the cause of the dysfunction, you may provide temporary relief, but you also risk tearing the muscle. As always, we need to adopt an approach that combines stretching muscles that are tight, activating inhibited (weak) muscles and improving lost ranges of motion.

WHAT ARE THE HAMSTRINGS?

The hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles that run down the back of your leg from the pelvis to your lower leg, crossing behind the knee joint—the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris. They are responsible for hip extension and knee flexion, involved in stabilising the pelvis and are antagonists to the quadriceps.

The hamstrings are one of the main muscle groups that are active when you’re riding. The upper part of the hamstrings is involved in the downstroke of pedaling and the lower part is active as you bend your knee for the upstroke.

HOW TIGHT HAMSTRINGS AFFECT YOUR RIDING?

Improving the functionality of your hamstrings can:

  • Alleviate lower back, hip and knee pain.
  • Allow for a more comfortable riding position.
  • Increase your pedalling power and speed.
  • Improve your balance and agility.
  • Reduce your risk of injury.

WHAT CAUSES TIGHT HAMSTRINGS?

By tight hamstrings, I’m referring to a sensation of stiffness in the backs of the legs, as well as an inability to move your muscles and joints through full range of motion ie. to touch your toes.

1. SHORT, TIGHT HIP FLEXORS

Half-Twisted Lizard

KEY POSES: Half Twisted LizardWind-RelievingLow LungeLizardPigeon

2. WEAK GLUTES

Bridge Pose

KEY POSES: Bridge, ChairLocust

3. TIGHT LOWER BACK

Cow Pose

KEY POSES: Cat CowSphinx, Cobra, Bridge, Puppy, Reclining Spinal TwistThread The Needle

4. TIGHT QUADS

Half Frog

KEY POSES: Half Frog, Half Twisted Lizard

5. SACROILIAC JOINT ISSUES

Modified Half Reclining Hero

KEY POSES: Half Reclining Hero, Seated Spinal TwistHigh Lunge Twist

6. WEAK CORE

One-Legged Plank

KEY POSES: PlankSide Plank, Snake

7. TIGHT HAMSTRINGS

Reclining Hand-To-Toe

KEY POSES: Reclining Hand-To-Toe, Downward Dog, Half Monkey

YOUR PRESCRIPTION

  • Muscles to stretch: Hips, hamstrings, IT band, groin, glutes and piriformis.
  • Structures to strengthen and stabilise: Lower back, abs, obliques, hips and glutes.
  • Joints to mobilise: Spine and hips.
  • Structures to align: Pelvis.

YOUR 5 CLASSES

GET INVOLVED

Anyone get any closer to touching their toes?

Photo credit: Fiona Peters