Categorized as: REST AND RECOVERY

Hamstring Flexibility – 6 Tips to Loosen Tight Hamstrings

There’s a few factors that contribute to a lack of hamstring flexibility, such as:

  • Truly tight hamstrings
  • Prior injuries
  • Decreased back/pelvis mobility
  • Overwork
  • Improper training

Let’s take a look at some of these factors and some strategies you can employ to improve your hamstring flexibility.

What Causes Tight Hamstrings and How to Fix Them

First of all, are your hamstrings really the problem?


For example, your calves (gastrocnemius muscles) cross the knee joint, so restrictions there can make keeping your knees straight harder than it should be.
This may seem silly or obvious, but just because you can’t touch your toes doesn’t necessarily mean your hamstrings are to blame for your limited range of motion. There can be quite a few structures in your “posterior chain” that are limiting your movement (especially if you have a job that requires you to sit or drive for long periods of time).

  • Also, the connections from your deep hip muscles (glutes, piriformis, gemelli, etc.) can affect the ease in which your pelvis tilts, thus affecting how you bend forward at the hip.
  • Another factor could be the tightness of the fascial interconnections between your muscle groups (picture this as your muscles being “stuck together,” and thus they don’t slide freely beside each other).
  • Then there’s joint restrictions at your lower back and pelvis, which can cause increased tension throughout your hips and legs. With these, people often feel much more freedom in their motion after doing exercises that limber up the spine (without stretching their legs much at all). Read More…

Saddle Yoga Pose

Benefits:

  • A deep opening in the sacral-lumbar arch
  • Also stretches hips flexors and quadriceps
  • Excellent for athletes and people who do a lot of standing or walking [1]
  • Stimulates the thyroid if the neck is dropped back
  • If the foot is, or the feet are, beside the hips, this becomes a good internal rotation of the hip.

Contra-indications:

  • If you have a bad back or tight sacroiliac (SI) joints
  • Knees can be tested too much here
  • Ankles can protest
  • Any sharp or burning pain here, you must come out!

Getting Into the Pose:

  • There are several options for coming into this pose. Start with simply sitting on the heels and notice how this feels. If there’s pain in the knees, skip this one. If your ankles are complaining, try a blanket under them or skip the pose. Lean back on your hands, creating a little arch to the lower back. Check in with how this feels. This may be it for you today! If you can go further, come down onto your elbows.
Alternatives & Options:

  • If this is too deep for the lower back, do the Sphinx pose.
  • You can also straighten one leg for Half Saddle. You can bend the straight leg and place the foot on the floor (note pictures). A deep variation is to hug the top knee toward the chest. That can get quite juicy. Read More…

WHAT MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS HAVE TO DO WITH MENTAL TOUGHNESS

There is a tendency in the world of sports to be “tough” and put on a brave face no matter what, to push yourself through obstacles with force, and to keep yourself moving because the alternative of slowing down might mean that you’re “falling behind.” But the problem with that full-speed-ahead approach is that it’s bound to burn you out in the long run, and it’s not going to help you mature as an athlete.

Real Mental Toughness requires slowing down both physically and mentally.

Many of the techniques I teach, such as controlling your eyes and ears, staying focused in the NOW, and emphasizing the process over the outcome are a unique way of applying the concept of mindfulness to sports. But if you really want to grow as an athlete it’s helpful to understand the broader definition of mindfulness and apply it to life both on and off the field so that you can benefit in multiple ways.

So what is mindfulness?

If you’ve ever time-traveled in your head and got distracted with thoughts while your body was doing something on autopilot then that’s a good example of what mindfulness is NOT, and what it aims to address. When “the lights are on but nobody’s home” so to speak, you are not doing whatever it is you’re doing to your full capacity.

If you’re in practice and thinking about how you really need to win the next game, how embarrassed you are about some mistake you made in the past, or how you’re failing chemistry then your concentration will suffer because your body and mind are in two separate places. Mindfulness helps bring the two back together so that you have more focus, clarity, and are able to perform better. Read More…