Updated: May 20
Been stretching your hamstrings for years and still not getting any release from them? This is very common. In yoga we notoriously stretch the hamstrings A LOT and do very little to strengthen them, which sometimes results is tight, weak hamstrings, and who wants that?
Stretching is a SKILL that can be learned, like typing, juggling or doing a handstand. There's more to it than just holding a stretch and hoping for the best. Your BRAIN has to accept that the movement you're doing is SAFE - ie, that doing it won't result in you going beyond your anatomical availability and breaking.
We must also take into consideration our anatomy, genetics and ability to acquire physical skills. It can be a complicated mess in which the nervous system plays a huge role. There are several "hacks" out there which yield results in the moment but seldom in the long term. It can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, even of what I'm saying! So you may as well have a go.
Do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got. Changing things up and doing something different can make a huge difference. And that goes for all of life, not just hamstrings.
Surprisingly, STRENGTHENING your hamstrings - using them and making them work hard for their money, is a surprising way to get them to be a little more flexible.
to get your hamstrings to work, check out the video linked to this post, in which I demonstrate two variations of Bridge Pose which involve moving, rather than holding still. Doing so helps work the hamstrings throughout more of their range than just the bog standard (and rather dull) heel-beneath-knee position.
These can be quite fun (read: difficult) because they really make your hamstrings work in a deliciously satisfying way. A little bit of this a couple of times a week and you may be surprised by what your hamstrings can achieve. Of course there are LOADS of other strengthening exercises but
a) I am focusing on how you can easily adapt what you already do
b) I don't want to overwhelm you.
There are dynamic stretches that will help too - but more on those in a future post... In the meantime, get strengthening and let me know how you get on!