When dealing with hamstring injuries, it's best to be proactive and avoid the desire to sit back and "let them heal". We all deal with hamstring tightness, some more than others, but Yoga is wonderful in providing us the tools to create flexibility in the one of the tightest spots in our bodies. Hamstring muscles are also some of the biggest muscles in the body as well, making working with them a challenge.
"Avoid the temptation to rest a pulled hamstring," says Nicole DeAvilla, an Ananda-certified RYT with a background in sports medicine. When muscle fibers tear and then begin to heal, they tend to bunch up and shorten if there's no stretching, which makes recovery even harder. Don't over do it, though-stretch only to the edge of the discomfort. And don't forget about strengthening.
In this case, you don't want to sit back and do nothing. Here are a couple of poses from the yoga toolbox that you can incorporate into your fitness routine today.
"Injured muscles can atrophy quickly and then it'll be harder to rehabilitate so add strength," says DeAvilla.
The Cure: Supine Leg Stretch How to: Lie on your back and place a strap (or belt) around the arch of your right foot. Holding each end of the strap, draw your knee to your chest (move the hands up and down the strap as needed to release slack). On an exhale, straighten your leg upward as far as you can to comfortably stretch your hamstring. You should hold for at least 30 seconds to release the muscle, but no longer than a minute. Repeat for the left leg. "This supine stretch is better than a Standing Forward Bend because your body is fully supported. With no tension in the back, your hamstrings will relax more easily," says DeAvilla.
They're pretty simple, but most non-yogis don't know to put Locust into the mix.
The Cure: Locust How to: Start lying on your belly. Place your feet three to four inches apart and point your toes. Extend your arms in front of you, shoulder width apart. Squeeze your buttocks and press your pubic bone down into the floor. Inhale and stretch your arms forward and your legs backward as you lift your body off the floor. Keep your pelvis on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. "With locust you can go slowly and have control over your legs as your hamstrings contract," says DeAvilla. "It's a safe strengthener because it's hard for to overdo."
Yoga should always be your go-to to deal with issues that involve patience, healing and self-compassion, and your hamstrings are no exception.
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How to find contentment with your past and future by doing your best today. Doing your best.
Destroying the myth that yoga is for the skinny female, take this practice with the big, inflexible guy in mind. Totally suitable for anyone, male.