Hamstring tightness and soreness is probably the number one complaint heard in yoga classes. Our hamstrings make up three different muscle groups, which collectively are responsible for the flexing of the knee and lifting of the foot each time we run or jog. When we overuse or aggravate these muscles, their response is to tense up and contract. And there’s no mistaking the fiery wrath of an overworked hamstring!
Can you use yoga for tight hamstrings?
You can use yoga for tight hamstrings because yoga helps gently lengthen and stretch your hamstring muscles. In that sense, running and yoga complement each other perfectly! Yoga and running help to fill the gaps where the other lacks. Practicing just a handful of specific postures before and/or after a long running session can help to stretch and gently lengthen the hamstring muscles, as well as release any built-up tension in the body. There are a few poses in yoga for tight hamstrings, and these poses will help stretch your other leg muscles, too.
If you want to try using yoga for tight hamstrings, here are our top 3 yoga poses to help you stretch from every angle:
1. FORWARD FOLD (AKA UTTANASANA)
Basic hamstring stretch to lengthen and release tension.
PROtip: If you start to feel any pain, back off by gently bending the knees. The aim is to feel a stretch without any discomfort or strain.
2. WIDE-LEGGED STANDING FORWARD FOLD (AKA PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA)
Inner hamstring stretch to also lengthen spine.
PROtip: Rest hands on floor and lift kneecaps to activate quadriceps. Increased activation will deepen hamstring stretch.
3. PYRAMID POSE (AKA PARSVOTTANASANA)
Outer hamstring stretch to work leg balance and strength.
PROtip: Extra tight hamstrings will benefit from the use of blocks (like these!) to support hands if they don’t reach the floor.