The hamstring is one of the thigh muscles located at the back of the human leg that is present between the hip and the knee. Activities that need a person to use their legs actively can often lead to tightness in the hamstrings.
If you are a sportsperson or a fitness enthusiast, then you must be already familiar with hamstring strains caused due to it. When hamstrings tighten, the blood is unable to circulate properly in that region which affects the performance. Hamstring tightness can flatten the lower back and is susceptible to tearing(1) if there’s too much strain on it.
What Causes Hamstring Tightness?
Frequent change in the movement of the leg that takes place in activities like running, sprinting, dancing or playing sports like football and tennis can lead the hamstring to tighten.
Other factors such as a previous case of a hamstring strain, weak glutes, skipping warm-up before a workout session or an anterior pelvic tilt can also contribute to this problem.
Hamstring tightness can lead to sudden severe pain during an activity that involves the leg, tenderness in the area, bruising or pain in the back of the thigh when trying to fold the knee, etc.
Practicing yoga for tight hamstrings can prove to be beneficial to prevent sudden pain and sprains.
Did You Know!
Thirty-six million people in the US regularly practice yoga.
Is Yoga Effective For Tight Hamstring?
Hamstring tightness is often self-curable. According to a study(2) made in 2013 at the University of Pretoria, it is stated that the best way to get rid of the sharp pain is either by doing stretches for tight hamstrings or practicing yoga poses meant to keep the hamstring healthy and promote proper blood flow.
[Read: Exercises to Manage Nerve Pain]
If a hamstring sprain is left untreated, it can cause pain that can last up to six months or even more. Treating hamstring tightness or pain requires consistent effort, time, and patience, and it is something that shouldn’t be ignored at any cost. Here are some yoga poses for hamstrings that you can follow:
1. Intense Forward Bending Pose
Stand with the tips of your big toes touching each other with the heels slightly apart. Keep your hands on your hips and exhale as you bend forward from the hip joints. As you move into the position, draw the upper body out of the groins. Keep your knees straight and try to bring your palms beside the feet or if possible, behind the ankle. Stay for 10 seconds in the position and then inhale while lifting and lengthening your torso slightly. Practicing this yoga for hamstrings 3-5 times will stretch them and strengthen the knees and thighs as well.
[Read: KT Tape for Hamstring]
2. Extended Triangle Pose
Stand with the tips of your big toes touching each other with the heels slightly apart. Now exhale and spread your feet around 4 feet apart. Raise both arms parallel to the floor by lengthening your body and drawing the abdomen in. Inhale and extend your right side of the body towards your right leg by shifting your hips towards the back. Inhale as you bring the right hand down to touch the right foot or the floor and extend your left arm towards the ceiling in line with the shoulder. Keep your neck aligned with the spine and look straight. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and repeat with the other side, Practice this 4-5 times. This yoga pose stretches the hamstrings(3), spine, calves, and shoulders.
Research says that practicing yoga can delay aging.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Stand with the tips of your big toes touching each other with the heels slightly apart. Then spread your feet wide apart as long as you can hold your body in that position in a stable manner. Putting pressure on the outer edges of the feet try to draw the ankles up. Place your hands on your hips as you try to draw the thighs up along with the ankle. Fold forward from the hips, exhale and touch the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders. Take 5-10 breaths and go back to the original position. Repeat 4-5 times daily to get relief from hamstring tightness
4. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
One of the best yoga stretches for tight hamstrings is the Reclining Hand-to-Toe Pose. For this. Lie on your back with your legs extended and hands to the sides. Slowly exhale and bend your right thigh until it touches the chest. Wrap the strap around the ball of the right foot and grasp the ends of the strap with both hands. Now exhale and straighten your right knee. Try to extend your heel towards the ceiling as much as possible. Your right foot should lie flat and straight to the ground, so should the rest of the body. Get back to the original position and repeat with the other leg. Practice 4-5 times. This yoga pose is also beneficial for people with spine problems as it doesn’t exert pressure on it.
[Read: Magnesium to Ease Leg Cramp]
5. Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with the legs stretched in front of you. Bring your hands out to the sides and place it straight up towards the ceiling. Inhale and straighten your spine. Now slowly exhale as you bend forward and bring your belly to rest on your thigh and your nose touching the knees. Hold your ankles and remain in this position for 20 seconds before sitting back up. Repeat 4-5 times for the best results. This yoga stretches the hamstrings, calves, and spine. This stretch position also helps to open up the hips and is said to improve mood by relieving stress from the body.
6. Side Lunge
The Side Lunge is one of the most effective yoga poses for tight hamstrings. For this, you need to stand with legs wide apart and then shift your weight to one leg bending the knee so that it makes a 90-degree angle and the other leg should remain straight. Return to the original position and repeat with the other leg. Do this 15-20 times at a moderate speed. This yoga pose will help to stretch the hamstrings and work on your glutes to tone your buttocks. This yoga pose can also help to lose fat from the thighs and bring them in shape.
The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit language and means ‘union.’
As you can see from above, these yoga poses can help you prevent hamstring tightness by stretching them and also develops your muscles around the thighs and buttocks. By practicing these couple of poses at home daily, you can get your legs to work properly and increase endurance in the leg muscles.
Q1. Is it recommended to do yoga for hamstring tightness
Yes, yoga is a great solution for hamstring tightness. By stretching the hamstrings naturally, yoga helps in proper blood flow in them and prevent them from strains and injuries.
Q2. What can you do besides yoga for hamstring tightness?
Besides practicing the mentioned yoga poses daily, you can apply some cold compress, give enough rest to your legs, and try to stretch them throughout the day slowly.