The most common request I get in classes, and from clients, is “can we work on stretching tight hamstrings?”. While I’m willing to work on hamstrings many times people THINK they have tight hamstrings when they actually don’t. What they are doing, is blaming their hamstrings for tightness elsewhere. How can we know the difference? With this simple test!
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Do you really have tight hamstrings?
So let’s first get ourselves a baseline as to the flexibility of our hamstrings. For this test, we’re going to use uttanasana, forward fold. With the feet hip-distance apart, fold forward from the hip crease. Notice if the knees have to bend for this to happen. Also take note of where your hands rest, to the floor, shins, or blocks. Then notice where you feel the stretch.
Next, find something to elevate your heels. I use a yoga wedge in the video because I have one and it’s a great yoga prop for your practice. But, you could use a couple of thick books, weight plates, or a folded blanket. Anything that will lift your heels 1-2″ off the floor.
With the heels on the raised edge and toes towards the mat repeat the forward fold. Notice if your legs are straighter. Maybe you fold further forward. Perhaps the stretch is simply felt in a different area of your body.
If this simple trick changes your forward fold, chances are you’ve been blaming your hamstrings for what is actually tightness in your calves! Poor hamstrings get the blame for everything. lol. So, maybe rather than working on your hamstrings, perhaps it’s time to give your calves a little love!
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- Do you have tight hamstrings? Are you sure?
- If you did the test, did you find out it’s actually your calves?
- Are there other areas of tightness in your body?