- From laying on your back, exhale and use your core to send your legs up and over head with control. Slowly lower your feet toward the floor behind and beyond your head. Keep your chin to your chest, neck straight, and do not look from side to side.
- If your toes touch the ground, your hands can stay long by your side. Work to keep your torso as close to perpendicular with the floor as possible, legs fully extended and engaged.
- If your toes don’t touch, bring your hands to your lower back, fingertips facing up. Rock your shoulders underneath you so the shoulder-blades draw closer together, creating a little air pocket for your C7 vertebra (that little knobby bone at the base of your neck). Again, work to keep your torso as close to perpendicular with the ground as possible, legs fully extended and engaged.
- Hold for 10 deep breaths then slowly roll down one vertebra at a time, using your core to decelerate, until your legs extend long.
- Hug your knees into your chest and rock a little from side to side for a quick release of the lower back before moving on to other postures.
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.
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.
Neck Pain – From foundational issues in the ankles and feet to the top of the tower, the neck is a critical player in athletic endeavors and requires great care. Having had two of the most important people in my life suffer debilitating neck breaks, I really can’t stress this one enough. Full rotation of the neck makes all the difference in any sport you play. How else are you going to see your opponent coming up behind you to try and steal the ball away? And with a fastball speeding toward you, you want to be able to turn your neck and see that baby coming! Unfortunately, like the feet and ankles, the neck is often neglected when it comes to stretching and strength training. Avoid that pitfall with the postures in this post.