5-Pose Yoga Fix Stretches for Looser Hamstrings

 

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This fundamental yoga posture is a great stretch for the back of the legs, but it can also be difficult for those of us with tight hamstrings. Make it more accessible by taking your feet to the wide edge of the mat and keeping a slight bend in your knees. The move: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Slide your palms forward so they rest forward of your shoulders and tuck your toes. Cross your right leg over your left, creating the same shape your legs take in eagle pose. Inhale deeply, exhale and lower your legs to the left. Extend both arms out in a T shape and look to the sky or over your right shoulder. Hold the pose for 5–10 breaths, return to center on an inhale and repeat on the other side.

Cross your right foot over your left thigh, just above your knee. Hold onto the back of your left thigh and gently pull both legs toward you. Flex both feet and keep your left foot at knee height or higher. Hold for 5–10 breaths and switch sides. The pose strengthens your thighs and ankles while stretching the groin, chest and side of the body.

The move: Begin in warrior II with your right foot forward. On an exhale, rest your right forearm lightly on your right thigh and sweep your left arm over your ear, creating a straight line from your left fingertips to your left ankle. If anything is too difficult, it’s okay to take a rest in Child’s Pose: Come down onto the hands and knees, spread knees slightly apart, push the hips back onto the heels, arms long, palms pressing. Tight hamstrings team up with a tight piriformis to exacerbate sciatica pain. Gently loosen the hammies with this stretch.

The move: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent. Hug your right knee into your chest and loop a strap or towel around the ball of your right foot. Pyramid pose can feel a bit deep for many with tight hamstrings. In this case put your hands in a low bench, chair, or yoga block. Elevating your hand will give you that deep stretch.

Also called the seated pigeon, the seated figure-four stretch helps to loosen up your glutes and surrounding muscles. To do this stretch: Sit upright in a sturdy chair. Place your right ankle on.

I’ve been doing yoga for a while now so have had amazing flexibility, so naturally I thought this would pass and they’d get looser if I start slowly stretching them out. Stupidly I went to the gym again the next day and thought if I just did a light 10mins of the bike trainer to warm my sore muscles up I’d be able to stretch them out better. One of yoga’s classic hamstring stretches is Uttanasana(Standing Forward Bend), in which the knees are straight, the torso hangs down, and the abdomen eventually rests on the front of the thighs.

Too Much of a Good Thing Why do so many yoga students develop the nagging, frustrating pain that indicates strained hamstrings?

List of related literature:

To enhance the stretch on the hamstrings and posterior deltoid, lengthen the opposite arm and leg and lean the chin into the movement, keeping the shoulders over the hips for good posture.

“Methods of Group Exercise Instruction” by Mary M. Yoke, Carol Armbruster
from Methods of Group Exercise Instruction
by Mary M. Yoke, Carol Armbruster
Human Kinetics, 2019

The contraction-relax technique (see figure 6.2) begins in the same starting position with your partner providing an easy 4to 6-second stretch before giving the signal “back” for you to contract your hip flexors and push forward for 4 to 6 seconds as your partner continues to push your leg forward.

“Physical Fitness and Wellness: Changing the Way You Look, Feel, and Perform” by Jerrold S. Greenberg, George B. Dintiman, Barbee Myers Oakes
from Physical Fitness and Wellness: Changing the Way You Look, Feel, and Perform
by Jerrold S. Greenberg, George B. Dintiman, Barbee Myers Oakes
Human Kinetics, 2004

8.25), and the fullest expressions of many inverted poses (chapters 8 and 9), just to mention a few—in which generating tension in the hamstrings or releasing tension in the quadriceps femoris muscles to permit frank bending of the knees would alter the fundamental nature of the posture.

“Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners” by David Coulter
from Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers, and Practitioners
by David Coulter
Motilal Banarsidass, 2004

• In step 1, contract the abdominals to create a slight posterior pelvic tilt and prevent the lower back from arching as the hip flexors contract to help support the legs, especially as the knee extensors straighten the legs.

“Pilates Anatomy” by Rael Isacowitz, Karen S. Clippinger
from Pilates Anatomy
by Rael Isacowitz, Karen S. Clippinger
Human Kinetics, 2019

Modify the intermediate seated hip external rotator and extensor stretch to include the soleus, popliteus, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus, tibialis posterior, gastrocnemius, and plantaris muscles of the lower leg as a combo stretch.

“Stretching Anatomy” by Arnold G. Nelson, Jouko Kokkonen
from Stretching Anatomy
by Arnold G. Nelson, Jouko Kokkonen
Human Kinetics, 2020

It is better to work with a mild stretch in the back and hamstrings, gradually lengthening the time spent in the pose.

“Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy” by Mukunda Stiles
from Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy
by Mukunda Stiles
Lotus Press, 2008

Self-assisted passive knee flexion (a) Heel drag in supine (simultaneous hip and knee flexion in lying supine) position (b) Bedside sitting, relaxed knee movements with the help of sound leg (in unilateralTKR) (c) Sitting with feet planted on the ground, lift and push forward by raising trunk on arms 3.

“Essentials of Orthopaedics & Applied Physiotherapy E-Book” by Jayant Joshi, Prakash P Kotwal
from Essentials of Orthopaedics & Applied Physiotherapy E-Book
by Jayant Joshi, Prakash P Kotwal
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2016

For the tree pose, stand straight, with your feet firmly placed on the ground, then place one ankle on the inner side your thigh, close to the perineum, and balance on one leg.

“Yoga Nidra Meditation: The Sleep of the Sages” by Pierre Bonnasse
from Yoga Nidra Meditation: The Sleep of the Sages
by Pierre Bonnasse
Inner Traditions/Bear, 2017

17) LUNGES (Stretches your thighs and groin as well as lengthens your spine) While on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands below your shoulders, step your left foot forward, placing it next to your left hand.

“YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty” by Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet Oz
from YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner’s Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty
by Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet Oz
Scribner, 2008

This pose givesa deep stretch to the hamstring muscles, which helps you with the restof your practice.

“Yoga For Dummies” by Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein
from Yoga For Dummies
by Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein
Wiley, 2014

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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42 comments

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  • 2 days ago I jogged too much… I even did the sprints… So since 2 days, muscles between my knees and feet really hurt…
    Pls suggest me some exercises as I don’t have the roller pin

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  • This is a great video I’m a former dancer and I still stretch even with my career over, Forward folds soothe the nervous system and encourage introspection.
    Forward folds tone and stimulate the internal organs. I did a brief video that explains it all in a nutshell

  • thanks for another greater video Dr.Jo! I have a question about foot arches and im not sure if you already have a video on this. is it mechanically benefical to have high arches? and in what situations should a person get orthodics? my mom has been complaining about pain in her knees and hips and someone said something about the kinetic chain and that orthotics would help but at the same time they are so expensive. what are your thoughts on this? thanks

  • Hi Dr Jo how long after a hamstring strain do I need to wait before trying these stretches and exercises? Is it possible to “over do it” with these exercises and ultimately slow the recovery process?

  • i had acl surgery 23th april 2016. I used cpm machine to bend my knee. now i can bend 90 degree. i want to bend without machine. i will be very happy if you give me very easy tips for bending knee. and i want to know

    it past 2 month of my surgery but when every i sneeze it pains like electron come to my knee area. i am worry is this big problem or normal?

    sorry my english is not so good. plz reply. i am waiting

    rayan gupta
    Nepal

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  • knee, leg folding so crucial it damages even to bend just like that people cannot bend

    knee folding accelerate vital pose of bending

  • Great video content! Sorry for chiming in, I would love your thoughts. Have you heard the talk about Dinanlinson Rocky Position Approach (do a google search)? It is a smashing one off product for learning how to fix chronic knee pain minus the hard work. Ive heard some decent things about it and my friend Sam after a lifetime of fighting got astronomical results with it.

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  • Great videos and advice!

    I heard felt two “pops” on one movement playing hockey (I’m a goalie) last night, finished the game pain-free but tentative. I stretched at the end of the ice time, felt the same pops, so backed off, iced it, went to bed.

    I’m recovering from a bulged disc in my lower back and I know this is all connected. My gym rehab is a lot of glute bridges, cardio (no rowing machine anymore) dead bugs, planks of various types, thoracic cage stretches over the big ball, foam roller everywhere.

    I’m icing the hammy and I notice my range of motion on that side is a bit limited and just feels “tight” so I’m tentative. Taking standard Alleve dose and I’m not in pain, just “tight” and tentative.

    Thoughts on next steps and can I go ahead and skate? I’ve pulled groins and strained hip flexors before but this is new…

  • Hey Fam ��Lets loosen up those hamstrings, shall we? �� Hope you enjoy the video:)
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  • I think all my muscles is tight causing my lower back pain. Cant even do jumping jacks very lo g without pain in the front of my ankles

  • I am an handicapped person i cant walk properly without support i walkvwith sitck so can u show me some exercise for my leg purpose n my leg is to tight i cant walk on my toes while walking in my right i cant give my wait in my toes so plzzz give me some solution, i am waiting for ur next video regarding my legs tightness solution.

  • Great video, thanks Jo. I have a problem with just one hamstring. 2 minutes in during the “bridge” section you suggest lifting one foot off the floor. Would that be the leg with the problem or the “good” leg?

  • Thank you for this! I get strain in my hamstring after doing exercise despite warming up. This gets rid of my post workout hamstring strain!!

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  • I will make my knee normal like before. I will prove my doctor that he said it will be lifetime pain if exercise is stopped. But I will make it work 100% work later without doing any exercise in future. I challenge my doctore. Exercise and believe of mine will cure it.

  • I can’t even kick my legs up past 30 degrees to warm up. This explains the constant pain in my lower back and why I can never sit up straight on the floor without leaning back onto my hands. I need this guy and the routine in my life.

  • Hey gabo, is feeling a numb sensation on your toes normal? Also, i did some hamstrings stretches before and i believe i over did it, now my hamstrings are hurting a bit. Is this also normal? Should i give them rest? For how long?

  • Would you be able to do follow a long version of this please? For the whole duration you’re meant to do each exercise. It’s hard to know how long to do each movement. Thanks!!

  • I used to like this video, but are you serious about the the commercials in between? It throws you out of your flow!
    Get that fixed dude, seriously!

  • Got to grin and bear it
    Gritting the teeth
    If you need to bite harder
    Chew on some beef
    All things must pass
    The pain won’t last
    But stretching your hamstring’s a real pain in the ass

    freerangethought.com

  • Thanks for the reminder to get my rolling stick back out, especially for my calves. Have you tried something like the Tim Tam yet? I just got one about a week ago and I’m really liking it, a DPT perspective would be awesome!

  • Wow, You shared very good information. My uncle had suffered from this problem. He was total upset during this. He went to many hospitals. But the result was not good. Then, Someone told him about planet Ayurveda. He went to Planet Ayurveda & got his treatment started. Now he is fine. If you have this type of problem or any other type of health problem. you should go to Planet Ayurveda.

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  • Thank you soooo much for this video. I do need to work on my hamstrings a lot. They are extremely tight. I had to used bands to bring my legs to 90 degrees. Will try this useful routine daily.

  • Im a wee bit tall and I am just very self conscious of how vulnerable my joints are. I just want to make sure they’re up to spec so I can play basketball and other knee stuff.

  • Madam plzz tell me I’m durgarao my age 25 I’m legs muzzle is completely weakness how fit d strength the muzzle even I’m not walk on two steps also plzz tell me the u r suggestion tqs in advance..

  • I walked off a raised ledge at work. Felt my hamstring a little bit. So icing it now for one day. Then I will start stretches for up up to day 3. After I will workout strength.

  • Hello, Dr.Jo! I’m a dancer and the upper part of my left hamstring and the tendon behind the knee hurt when I sit and when I try to do my stretching routine. I think I overstretched my splits and my legs extensions (1hr or so daily) even if I haven’t felt anything bad at that time. I really don’t know if I should get some rest or continue with the stretching, as I need to maintain my flexibility. Can you help me?

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  • Woah! I mean it worked out really well!! Like it’s my first time to get a hamstring cramp… I got really scared…. But it turned really well aftr I tried it… Tks a lot ��

  • My hamstring hurts in the middle part when I sprint and when I try to stretch and all so I think I got proximal hamstring tendinopathy in my upper hamstring so what should I do??????

  • I got injured to my hamstring during running two days ago,can I do these stretching now?
    And
    I have a 800mts competition in 40 days,is it possible for me to get back?

  • Hi Dr.Jo I mildly pulled my hamstrings like 6 days ago. How long until I can stretch? It feels like my legs are aching to be stretched.