Fold, then reach
The next part in our hamstring flexibility series focuses on the pelvis. Here’s where a little anatomy knowledge helps.
There are 3 muscles that make up the hamstrings:
- Biceps femoris
All three of these muscles originate from your ischial tuberosity (sitting bones on your pelvis). From here they attach on your tibia and fibula, bones in your lower leg.
So why is pelvis position important for stretching?
Actually it’s ridiculously important! When you’re stretching the hamstrings you need to pull the ends of muscle away from one another. This generates stretch through the tissue. To make a muscle grow longer you need to sustain this pressure on the muscle (and tendons) for over 60 seconds. Sustained stretch induces stress, and the body adapts by signalling to increase muscle length. Short term any unnecessary tone in the muscle is relaxed. Longer term more sacromeres are added to the muscle to increase length.
So, if we’re wanting to increase hamstring flexibility then we need to increase the distance between the knee and pelvis, therefore stretching the hamstring,
But I’m doing that already aren’t I?
Quite possibly yes. But 9/10 times in clinic we see patients with restricted hips, pelvis and lower back mechanics (from too much sitting, but don’t get me started on that!!). When they lean into a forward bend the hamstrings become tight and pull on the pelvis. Typically they don’t have the strength, or mobility, to keep the pelvis in a good position so it tilts posteriorly. The hamstrings pull on the ischial tuberosity and rolling the pelvis backwards. To get more range of motion stretch then comes from spinal flexion rather than hamstrings stretching.
Adjust your pelvis position to improve your hamstring flexibility
Check out the video for the full tips on how to adjust your pelvis position. However this image shows how by just adjusting the pelvis into an anterior tilt you can more effectively target the hamstrings when stretching.
Fold, then reach
For more ways to improve your hamstring flexibility:
Check out our other videos
- Improving hamstring flexibility….working on plantar fascia: