Uttanasana Yoga Pose - Tight HamstringsWe live in a world of sitting. We sit in our cars, we sit at our desks, we sit on our couch and we sit in our yoga practice. All of this sitting is really hard on our bodies. One of the places that we feel the lasting effects of sitting so much are our hamstrings. Sitting isn’t the only thing that can give us tight hamstrings. Combine your routine of sitting with athletic activities such as running or lifting weights, and you have the perfect recipe for tight hamstring muscles. Tight hamstrings are one of the most common “concerns” that our students have, so here is how your Utica yoga practice can help relieve your tight hamstrings.

What Are the Hamstrings?

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that run the length of the back of the leg. These three muscles are the Biceps Femoris, the Semitendinosus, and the Semimembranosus. Together these three muscles are responsible for the flexion (bending) of the knee and extension of the thigh. The hamstrings are also partially responsible for the rotation and tilt of the pelvis. When the hamstrings are tight, there is often discomfort in the movement of the thighs and positioning of the pelvis that results in a reduction in the curve of the lower spine.

Why Are Tight Hamstrings a Problem?

It may not seem like a big deal to have tight hamstrings. They’re just your legs, right? Well, it turns out that tight hamstrings can have lasting impacts on the health of your lower back. Because tight hamstrings can straighten out the natural curve of the lower spine, you risk putting pressure on the discs in your lower back. This pressure over time can cause a “bulging” disc. Bulging discs require far more care and medical assistance than tight hamstrings. A good routine of yoga and hamstring stretches can help you avoid this less than pleasant outcome.

Poses That Help Tight Hamstrings

To help release tension in your hamstrings you can do some really simple poses that are perfect for any level of student, whether you are just beginning your yoga journey or if you’ve got years of experience. Here is our suggestion for working through tight hamstrings.

  • Start your practice with a few sun salutations. Make sure that you do the same number on each side of your body, to evenly warm your muscles. If you are new to yoga, and aren’t sure about sun salutations, take a good 5-10-minute walk.
  • Be mindful of your body and its limitations. Don’t be afraid to use modifications or props to help you be comfortable in each pose. Being comfortable will help you get the most from your practice.
  • Hold each pose for 5-15 breaths.
  • After your walk or sun salutations, continue your practice with these poses:
    • Bridge preparation (Setu Bandhasana)
    • Standing forward bend, with blocks if necessary (Uttanasana)
    • Kneeling Hamstring Lunge
    • Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
    • Head to Knee pose (Janu Sirasana)
    • Sitting forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
    • Supine leg extensions (Supta Uttita Hasta Padangustasana)

Follow this practice with a mindful cool down and some active time in savasana.

Making this practice a part of your normal routine will help you release your hamstrings and relieve pressure on your lower back.

I Am Searching for a Yoga Studio Near Me!

This practice is great for your at-home practice. However, if you want more guidance, are looking for more challenge, or are just beginning and want to learn how each of these poses helps your body, consider a class at The Yoga Studio Downtown. Our Utica yoga studio and teachers cater to all levels of experience from the beginner to the experienced. To learn more about our classes or how yoga can help you feel great, call us at (586) 991-0760 or stop by our yoga studio.