Tight hamstrings are an area of concern with most athletes and can become problematic if they aren't addressed on a regular basis. The hamstrings are a catch 22, the harder you work in the weight room the tighter they become. As a result, tight hamstrings can lead to a limited range of pelvic motion adding additional stress on your lumbar spine which ultimately results in lower back pain. Alright, that sounds bleak I know but there is a stretching solution that should be implemented daily to maintain mobility in your lower body and increase your hamstring flexibility. There are many stretches that you can use for your hamstrings, some of which we have discussed in past blog posts but I prefer the Runner’s Lunge for the following benefits!
Benefits of the Runners Lunge
- You can work one side at a time to maximize the stretch, and thereby maximizing your results.
- You can modify the intensity of the stretch to suit your comfort level simply by adjusting the placement of your hands.
- With the Runners Lunge, you will also benefit from an added calf stretch allowing the majority of the leg from the hamstring to the gastrocnemius (calf) to be worked.
Setup Instruction and Cues
- Start by coming to your knees on the mat or floor, then step one leg out straight in front of you.
- On the inhale, pull your pelvis back forming a 90 degree angle, ensuring that your bent leg is hip stacked over the knee keeping your hips parallel to the wall in front of you.
- On the exhale, hinge from the hips (NOT heaving the shoulders forward) and begin to fold your chest over placing your hands on the ground.
- As a modification, use blocks on either side of you to lessen the intensity of the stretch.
- To increase the intensity of the stretch, on the exhale, walk your hands forward while maintaining a straight back. The straight back is important; if you collapse your back, you will release the hamstring stretch.
- Take a deep breath in and then on the exhale, straighten your foot to add further resistance.
- After a few deep breaths (again on the exhale) flex your foot to release the hamstring stretch and create a calf stretch.
- On the exhale, slowly walk your hands back up, coming back to the upright position and repeat with the other leg.
Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.