Getting To Know Your Hamstrings


The drive to feel a deep stretch, particularly in forward bending postures, could cause microtears in your hamstring, which could lead to knee and hip pain, not to mention excessive soreness when you get out of bed in the morning. 

Healthy hamstrings are essential for sustainable lifestyles. 

If your hamstrings don’t have a lot of motion, gaining flexibility can help to keep your legs, hips, and knees healthy. If your hamstrings are very flexible, controlling their range of motion can still help you stay injury-free.

What most people don’t know, however, is that you need to strengthen your hamstrings to lengthen them for added flexibility and control. It seems paradoxical that you would need to improve your hamstrings if they are tight. But hamstrings are healthiest when all of their fibers can fully lengthen and contract. 

Your hamstrings are a collection of four muscles on the back thigh. They are attached to the sit bones and run down the backs of your thigh. 

There are two hamstrings on each of your inner back thighs and one in each outer thigh. All three of them are attached by long tendons crossing the back of the knee to the lower leg - and they are all connected to and affect the function of two joints: the hip and the knee. Your hamstrings flex your knees, straighten your hips and tilt your pelvis back. 

Now that we know how important they are, how do we strengthen them? 

The Upward Plank Pose is our favorite exercise for strengthening (and lengthening) our hamstrings.

Upward Plank Pose

This classic yoga pose requires shortening contraction of the hamstrings along the whole posterior chain of muscles - calves, glutes, and back muscles. We tend to be extremely weak in the back of our bodies due to our sedentary lifestyles, this pose provides the perfect solution to this widespread affliction. 

Begin by sitting with your torso upright and legs outstretched in front of you. 

Slide your palms backward with your fingers pointing toward your feet. 

Now point your toes so that the soles of your feet are planted into the ground. 

Then engage all of your back body muscles to lift off the floor into a reverse-incline plant. 

Rotate your hips to the inside by squeezing your thighs toward one another. 

Hold this position until you can no longer sustain the actions described above. 

Do this exercise daily for healthier hamstrings and a stronger posterior chain!