The bane of many a yoga practitioner is forward folds. Whether a seated or standing pose, often the culprit is tight muscles. Try this 5 minute hamstring release with tennis ball next time you get on the mat. Because it’s a great way to see if it’s the calves, hamstrings, or back causing the issue.
Stretching only goes so far when it comes to tight muscles. Sometimes more work is needed in order for us to go deeper into poses. I’ve talked before about the benefits of tennis balls to release tight muscles. And this 5 minute class using a tennis ball, is a quick and easy trick to touching your toes.
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Hamstring release with tennis ball
Before you dive into the tennis ball work, take a baseline assessment. For example, a seated forward fold like Paschimottanasana (below). Notice your body in the pose.
For instance, how much contact do the back of the legs have on the floor? Are the legs straight? How close does the ribcage feel to the thighs? Can your hands touch the toes?
Tennis ball placement
While you could use a lacrosse, or other massage ball. A hamstring release with tennis ball is great because they are cheap, and gentler. Take a seated position with the right leg extended, left leg bent and the left foot firmly on the floor.
Feel the ‘sit-bones’ on the floor. Lift the right hip (bent leg) and place the tennis ball under the right leg. But, at the top of the thigh, about 2-3″ below where the crease of your butt cheek is. Then, lower the pelvis back down, sandwiching the ball.
Ensure here that you are sitting upright. Avoid leaning back, unless you want less pressure on the hamstring. Sitting upright allows the weight of the torso to push downwards onto the ball. Hold here for 15-30s.
Sometimes smaller is better. And, that is definitely the case with the next part of this 5 minute hamstring release with tennis ball. Once the hamstring has had some time to get used to the ball, begin to flex and point through the foot.
Moving through the ankle allows small movement into the hamstring and nerves along the back of the leg. Continue this for 45-60s. Then hold in neutral as before for another 15-30s.
After that is the release, retest and repeat part of the exercise. The tight hamstring should have released some so remove the tennis ball. Hotice the contrast in how the buttocks relate to the floor (the right side may feel ‘flatter’). Retest the forward fold, then repeat everything on the other side.
This 5 minute hamstring release with tennis ball is a great way to reduce tightness through the back of the legs. Therefore making touching the toes much easier. A quick and simple trick, but effective.
45 minute Happy Hamstrings class
Looking for more hacks for tight hamstrings? This month I released a 45 minute class combining yoga, stretches, somatics, and massage to create Happy Hamstrings.
This class is exclusive to my Patreon community. You can gain access to this, and 20+ other classes by joining today! Do yoga at home, on your schedule. Discover how you can move with ease, get healthier and happier so you can live your life to it’s fullest potential. Sign up today!
- Can you touch your toes?
- Do you have tight hamstrings?
- Have you tried a tennis ball self massage before?