When you reach down to touch your toes, how far do you get? Do you make it past your knees? Can you loop your fingers around your big toes? How do your hamstrings feel?
If you struggle to reach your own feet without bending your knees, your hamstrings are too tight. Having tight hamstrings can wreak havoc on your posture as your muscles pull your system out of alignment. It can also hold you back from reaching your performance potential and optimizing strength.
Other downsides of tight hamstrings include limited range of motion, back pain, and increased risk for injury. If you sit day-in and day-out at a desk job, your body adapts to this new position and your hamstrings can actually shorten. If you want to make a change, here’s what you can do:
- Basic Stretching
A good place to start is with basic stretching. Start by sitting on the ground and extending one leg straight while the other is bent at the knee. Lean toward the foot that is furthest away from you by leaning forward from the hips. Try and not bend from your spine while you reach for you toes. Hold the position gently for 30 seconds a side while breathing deeply. Switch and repeat .
- Straight Leg Raise
Next, lay flat on your back and hold a slightly challenging weight in the opposite arm. Bring your leg up in a straight position. You’ll notice that some of this is core work but it’s also a really great position that encourages your nervous system to relax and stretch.
- Regular Massage
Another great way to induce changes to your musculoskeletal system is to seek out the help of a professional. A Massage therapist can show you exactly where you are tight and what type of stretching you can do to start working toward better mobility.
- Good Exercise
Next is to include exercise that targets strength and improves mobility. Squats and deadlifts are two great examples that contribute to overall health and wellbeing in addition to building hamstring strength.