PWC certified Pilates trainer Alyssa Dalrymple offers the following tip for increasing hamstring flexibility. If you have access to a Pilates Reformer machine, you may follow this tip on the Reformer bed. You may also follow the instructions using a TheraBand, as outlined below.
Laying flat on the Reformer bed, place your feet in the straps. If you are using a mat, place your feet in a band. Make sure the band is flat over arches of feet and make an “X” by crossing the band over to the other side of your body and hold it in your hands down by your sides.
Extend your legs straight at 45 degrees. Your feet are in plantar flexion pointing away from you and your back is in a neutral position. Please do not let your low back lift away from the bed or mat while legs are at 45 degrees. You can take your hands and place them on your hip bones and make sure the hip bones are pointing towards the ceiling, maintaining neutral position, not tipping away from ribs.
Next, slowly inhale while placing the feet in dorsi flexion by pulling feet towards shins. Press through heels while bringing legs up to 90 degrees, being careful to not tuck your tailbone by rocking the hips towards the ribs. If you keep your tailbone down and legs fully extended, you should feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings. Take a deep exhale, lower your legs back to 45 degrees with plantar flexion lengthening the legs and then inhale back up to 90 degrees with feet in dorsi flexion.
Take the movement slowly and purposefully to work with releasing the hamstrings and utilizing the breathing to help you control your pelvis/spine. Make sure to keep your legs together by “zipping up” the legs, and keep them fully extended.
You can perform 10-15 repetitions of this movement daily to help keep hamstrings loose and increase flexibility. Tight hamstrings can cause low back pain, improper pelvic alignment, and tight hips, and make you more susceptible to hamstring injuries.
If you are interested in Pilates Reformer sessions with certified Pilates instructor Alyssa Dalrymple, please contact fitness manager Whitney Propps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-445-5388. If you are new to Pilates, contact Whitney to schedule a complimentary demo session.