Have you ever seen demos of someone kicking at something that looks like it is impossibly high? Even if they are jumping to execute the technique, that person probably has worked on their hamstring flexibility. Alternately, you might notice someone who leans back in order to kick high – there’s a good chance that their hamstrings are tighter and the leaning back is partially a compensation. In our current culture, most people have tight hamstrings and it takes time to expand your range of motion.
Hamstrings don’t just support beautiful kicks. Knee blocks, for example, can be an effective way to protect yourself against an oncoming attack; you’ll need good hamstrings to raise the knee. On a daily basis, tight hamstrings can lead to knee pain and posture problems (reference).
Here’s one simple way to work on your hamstring flexibility. Start standing with feet at a comfortable distance. Bend your knees enough that you can place your hands on the ground in front of you. Your back is curved at this point.
Next, Flatten the curve of your back (you can do this by lifting your chin).
Keeping your chin lifted (and your back straight), think of lifting your kneecaps higher. Lift them to a point of tension (not to a level that makes you grimace) and just hold it there for a minute or two,
Eventually, you’ll be able to straighten your legs completely with your palms flat on the ground.
Want to check out other hamstring exercises? Click here for a nice article to read on a number of different ways to improve the flexibility of this important muscle group.
Warning – your stretching may not be very effective if you have a puppy helping you… we had to put Rosie inside for me to be able to demonstrate these!