1. Start in downward facing down.
2. Come into a low lunge, bring your right foot forward just inside your right hand. Knee stacked over ankle.
3. Shift your hips back, straightening the right leg and stacking the left hip over left knee.
4. Keep your hands or fingertips to the mat and keep a long, flat back. If you are rounding through the spine, bring a block under each hand.
5. Inch the heel forward if you want to deepen the stretch. Engaging the quads will also work to open the hammies.
6. Take 10 deep breaths, perhaps walking the fingers a few inches forward every couple of breaths.
7. Shift forward back into a low lunge. Plant your hands on the mat framing your right foot. Press the mat away and hips back into downward facing dog.
8. Repeat steps 2-7 on the other side.
9. Come back to downward facing dog and pedal your feet from side to side.
How it will heal you:
Hamstring Pulls – The vast majority of the time, hamstring pulls are a direct result of inflexible hamstrings. This big muscle group requires patience and daily attention to open up and can be really frustrating in their resistance to change. You are not going to go from barely touching your toes to Jordyn Wieber overnight. Commit to working on this posture every day and slowly but surely you’ll get the results you want and your body needs.
Knee Injuries – We all know someone that has torn their meniscus, had a knee replacement, or had some sort of debilitating knee injury. Our knees take a serious beating from all of the physical stuff we do day in and day out—not to mention the high heels some of us ladies rock to look lovely but brutalize our bodies from the tippy toes on up. The best way to prevent pain and avoid trouble is to keep the hips, IT band and hamstrings strong and flexible. Hips, IT band and hamstring mobility keeps the work in your bigger muscle groups (hamstrings and quadriceps) rather than the body’s default of looking to the place of least resistance–which is almost always the knee joint–for speed, power and agility. If you give the body freedom to move using your large muscle groups and stabilizers it will learn not to rely upon vulnerable and complex joints.
Lower Back Pain – How many of you have experienced lower back pain? I’d venture to say that anyone who sits in a chair all day has suffered through their fair share. This is also a big one for athletes. Why is that? Most often, lower back pain in athletes stems from tight hamstrings. For my fellow anatomy nerds out there, the hamstrings originate on the sitz bone–aka those little nobs deep in the flesh of your booty that us yogis balance on when doing boat core work (my favorite!). , If your hamstrings are tight they will pull down on the pelvis from the insertion point (the sitz bone) tilting it out of proper alignment and forcing your body to compensate using your lower back to remain upright. Another common reason for low back pain is underdeveloped abdominal muscles. I’m not talking just the six-pack abs (rectus abdominis) but also the deeper corset abs (transverse abdominis) that are critical for balance and stability. The simply solution to preventing and treating lower back pain is to stretch out your hammies and workout your core every day.