Let’s talk about hamstring stretching...
The hamstrings are a large muscle group running up the back of the thigh that attach below the knee and to the base of the pelvis. Hamstring mobility is so important because walking, core stability, and the ability to get on and off the floor all depend on the positioning of the pelvis. Tight hamstrings (caused by lots of time spent sitting) keep the pelvis in a tucked position that is not great for optimal pelvic and core health.
There are several different ways in which the hamstrings can be stretched. The most common one we see is the forward bend.
There is more than one way to perform a forward bend, however the point of a hamstring stretch is to change the length of the hamstrings. Therefore movement should be from the pelvis and not the spine.
A compensation we commonly see for tight hamstrings is an excessive rounding of the spine (picture 1). In this scenario, the spine is being over-stretched while there is not much movement at the pelvis, therefore not much hamstring stretch.
To perform an actual hamstring stretch (picture 2), stand with feet pelvis width apart in front of a chair for support. Keeping the knees straight and spine neutral, start to tip the pelvis forward. Continue to bend from the hips while maintaining a neutral spine and shifting your weight further back into your heels. When your spine starts to flex, you have reached the end of your hamstring mobility! It might be helpful to watch yourself in a mirror the first few times to get the idea. Rest your hands on your seat in front of you to help maintain this position.
Drastic difference, huh? A hamstring stretch is one of our favorites and is a great way to make your sitting time a little more dynamic. You are still using a chair just in a different way 😉