Tutorial #1220

Hamstring Tutorial

10 min - Tutorial


In this tutorial, which Karen calls "Hello Hamstring," she invites you to take a look at the tightness in your hamstrings. She focuses on lengthening and creating dynamic flexibility. You will use a ball for soft tissue mobilization while respecting the spine position, which in turn, monitors the origin of the hamstrings.
What You'll Need: Cadillac, Tennis Ball

About This Video


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This tutorial. I like to call hello hamstrings. It's a way to invite you to take a look at the tightness of your hamstrings using some balls to kind of facilitate some soft tissue release. And then we're going to use the pole actually to give us feedback during articulation of the spine. So then you can take this exercise into your ladder barrel ballet stretches starts like this. I'm going to sit myself with my bottom way back to this pole and take my left leg up on the Cadillac.

Now I'm not looking for this leg to be completely straight because if I did make it completely straight, my pelvis might round and I might do something really attractive like this. So I'm going to lengthen my head. I'm going to take my buttocks back. So I have this little curve here in my lumbar and I have this little curve here in my cervical, which are natural curves. And then I'm going to take this ball, I'm going to take one ball to start with and I'm going to put it somewhere underneath one of my three hamstrings. Inhale. And then as I exhale with ease, I'm gonna relax my chest, gently pull my abdomen in and back without over pushing it back because that's too much work externally, I'm just going to gently engage up in in and I'm going to actually press my left leg down as I lengthen out my thigh with the tight hamstring. When you press the leg down, the hamstring kind of becomes a knee extender and then I can coke contract with my quadricep to keep pressing downward.

So I'm just going to hold that and then I'm going to take my left foot and I'm going to flex it back and pointed away, flex it and point it all the while paying attention. You can see my hand picking out back here to maintain the neutralness of my spine without overworking my neck, flexing and pointing. I'm going to take the second ball now and I can use two of them and I could put one kind of at the bottom end and one kind of way up here at the top end. Now there's where you get hello hamstring because now I can really feel that my down leg incidentally is actually pressing down just to give me some support as I lift up on my abdomen. Again, my neutralness here and my Chinet level and my neutralness here. So I'm going to press down on my left hamstring, flex my foot back.

It could put a band around your foot, even work at a little bit back like that. But for the sake of this, I'm just pressing down and then I'm going to release. Now I'm going to take my hamstring. Excuse me, I'm gonna take my leg and I'm going to externally rotate my leg so I can get a little more of my left hamstring. So I'm going to take my own thigh and I'm actually going to kind of ex terminally rotate it. I'm going to keep my belly pulled in my space here behind my spine, behind my neck. Inhale. As I exhale with ease, I'm going to press the leg down, tighten up my press down on my leg, my flex and point my foot three times flex and point, flex and point and flex and point, and then come off it. I'm now going to go to my medial hamstrings.

I'm going to put the balls a little bit on the medial side, kind of turn my left bike in word. My belly gently pulls in and again I'm going to repeat. Something that often happens with my clients is they're all excited to pull in their belly and what happens is they pull in so hard their belly that this changes. Notice this position of the head and the shoulders. Again, I don't want to pull in the belly that hard and I certainly don't want the back to do the job of the belly, so I'm going to look straight ahead. The pole here is giving me feedback, going to hollow in the belly. I almost feel as if I'm growing tall and then the balls are on the media part of my hamstring. So not only is this hello hamstring, we could call it hello spinal awareness too, and then we're going to take that ball away.

And then sometimes when you stand up you can just kind of feel the difference in your legs and you can kind of feel how your left leg might be a little bit looser and then we can repeat it on the other side. So I'm going to sit with my spine here on this side, stretching my leg out, lining up the spine. There's always a tendency to do the first leg longer. So on purpose I'm going to stay on purpose, I'm going to spend careful attention to be sure I give just as much attention to my right leg. Again, my abdomen is pulled in, my spine is lengthened. That talk about some other things that might could happen as well as I do this and I think, oh, I'm going to sit up tall and my teacher told me not to round my shoulders.

Well then all just extend my spine because if you don't let me round, then I'll just hyperextend. Well, we don't want that either. So again, the pole giving us this good feedback against this sacral area. Neutralness of this spine belly gently pulled in, not overly overly so lift in the chest without arching. And then I press down in my hamstring and reach this leg out and in and the more I'm doing this right now, I'm actually feeling better awareness in my spine. So again, we're calling this hello hamstring, but I'm going to call it hello spine as well. One more time up and then one more time down, two balls to the lateral hamstring, gently pulling in. I can check with my hands for the position of my spine.

Sometimes as soon as we start an exercise, we have lots of other inventions come from that one exercise. I'm just going to tell you one that I'm thinking of. It's this, when I raise my arms up in the air, what's happening to my spine? Hopefully nothing. The pole is giving me feedback. Sometimes I'm paying attention to my hamstring, paying attention to the activation in my abdomen, lift my arm up and I'm paying so much attention to my arm. That's what's happening to my spine. It's changing. So do I just push it back? No, I allow it back.

I invite it back just out. Just how I'm inviting you to come in and participate with this. We have to invite our bodies to participate into exercise. We can't just make them do things out of the force of our own will. We have to invite them so the leg presses down.

I'm on the lateral hamstring and look at all the other benefits that we're getting. I'm going to take both the balls going to put it on the medial part of the hamstring here, gently pulling the abdomen and what's happening now, which very interesting is I'm actually starting to get some quivering in the inside of my thigh. As that leg is just becoming more aware of a nice neutral pelvis. My belly is gently lifted. I have a nice neutral neck position, nice neutral spine position. Now I'm going to leave the balls out of it and leave my leg here.

I'm going to pull my belly in and I'm going to gently nod my head and peel away from the pole. So as I articulate, the crown of my head is actually going way forward. As I segue mentally round my spine as if I'm doing spine stretch and then I roll myself back up. Sometimes what happens is this is my head comes forward and I lean the whole package. I'm not going to do that a lot because that's not very comfortable. So what I'm going to do next, I'm going to nod my head right around the access where my skull meets my neck and then nod my chin, my ribs, kind of go backwards to the Pol and I actually link them over and believe it or not, if I use an inhale here, I can expand the back ribs and that actually helps me go further. Inhale, exhale, and I'm going to stack back up.

We oftentimes exhale inflection and that certainly fine exhalation facilitates flection and that's typically how we do it in the spine stretch exercise. But sometimes say like in the example teasers, sometimes we inhale up so that we can broaden those back ribs, which actually then allow the trunk to flex forwards. I'm going to do this one more time and to do with my hands out in front. This time I'm going to inhale, prepare, exhale. Just gently pull back my abdomen and then I'm going to inhale as I nod my head an exhale. I can't talk really well when I'm inhaling, so I'm going to inhale annex hale and then stack my spine back up. And if you smile when you inhale, it's even better. And I'm going to tell you why that is. Have you ever seen your clients lift their head and their faces kind of go down into a frown? Well, those are different hyoid muscles that are trying to come in and help that.

If you smile, it actually turns those off. So now I'm going to smile. Inhale and exhale, come back and hopefully that looked a little bit different. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. I'm not making anything up here in my body. This is my body doing the work. How it goes one more time. Oh, very good. Thank you.


4 people like this.
Love this--wonderful!
3 people like this.
Karen, you are sunshine on a cloudy day! I love the idea of inviting the body into exercise. I do find we are often fighting and clawing our way into positions. Thank you for that wonderful insight!
Yeong Cheol C
1 person likes this.
Thank you for this class! Have a stubborn SI joint and pretty tight hamstrings... What a clever approach!
1 person likes this.
Hi Karen. My hubby has recently returned to martial arts classes after a 7 year break and this hamstring stretch is really popular with him. Thank you :)
2 people like this.
Always - great anatomy insights from Karen. Feeling the smile connect to the back of the head/occiput may be my new cue for for spine stretch and rollup. Great way to incorporate ball release into the Pilates work. Thank you.
2 people like this.
Thank you, invitation accepted !
wish more instructors could be this thorough
Hard to focus with all the dolphin play going on in the background!! awesome! The tutorial too!
Patty Hafen
1 person likes this.
Thank you for cueing such awareness. Great!
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