Exercises for Weak Hamstrings? Tight Hamstrings?

[Stephen Dunn:] All right, hey guys, what’s up? Welcome, welcome. It’s Stephen Dunn with CORE Therapy and Palates in Austin, Texas. Today we have Cheryl, gonna be teaching a hamstring strengthening and stretching class.

[Cheryl Dunn:] Awesome, welcome to Mindful Movement Monday. I have a lot of clients that are really working on trying to get their hamstrings a little bit stronger, because when our hamstrings are strong, so are our abdominals. They work hand in hand together. Today, we’re gonna do a few little exercises for that. I’m gonna ask everyone to go ahead, and lay down on your mats. What I want them to start with first is, we just need our pelvis to kind of warm up a little, so in palates we do these little pelvic clocks, and we’re really just, if you’re, if the clock was right on top of your pelvis, we’re just gonna rock from 12 O’clock to 6 O’clock. They’re just gonna take an inhale, and as they exhale they’re gonna rock towards 12 O’clock, so they’re taking the lumbar part of their spine, and making it really heavy in the mat, and their tailbone is lifting up.

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They're gonna inhale, and just relax back to neutral setting, and then, they're gonna exhale, and they're gonna make their sacrum a little bit heavier so they can feel the lumbar spine now lifting up, and you just wanna kind of rock back, and forth with this breath between the 12 O'clock and six O'clock, so that you can kind of open up the spine, and start to feel a little bit of articulation going on in that lumbar part. Good, nice. The bridging that I like to start with is a very small bridging. We're not gonna bridge up to our maximum place, we're just gonna bridge up to a comfort zone, and as we come down, instead of coming down, and then articulating bridge, we're gonna come down with a little lateral shifting. I'm gonna talk you through that here.

You wanna make sure that your heels are aligned with your sitz bones, and you wanna make sure that your heels are not too, too close to your rear, and not too far away. It should be this happy place that you feel like your femur, it's just kind of prompt down into the joint of the hip, by the weight of the foot being heavy, and the pelvis being heavy, so it's kind of prompt in there, and so, then you'll kind of know you're in a good space. You've got your arms to your side, and before you begin you wanna put a little pressure into one pinky, so we're not coming up yet, and as you put pressure into that pinky I want you just kind of trace the line of energy of that pressure going up that arm across the back, down the other arm, putting pressure into the other pinky.

Now, when you put pressure into both pinky's you can feel you have this little tripod going across your shoulders. That's gonna be your base, and you're gonna use that to help kind of lift you up. Everyone is gonna take an inhale before they begin, as they exhale they're all co-contracting, so they're going to put on this little [inaudible 00:02:49], and they're gonna bridge up to their comfort zone, so not to their max, just their comfort zone, putting a little pressure into that tripod. Good. They're gonna take an inhale, and now, as they exhale I want them to come down one vertebrae, and at that vertebrae I want them to laterally shift their spine side to side. Good, coming down the next vertebrae, and laterally shift side to side.

Down another vertebrae, and shifting side to side, and one more vertebrae side to side, and all the way to that bottom just kind of shifting the spine side to side. There's no big right, or wrong about this. We're just kind of moving the spine as we come down. Okay, so the next time instead of laterally shifting we're gonna add some rotation. Take an inhale before you begin, exhale. You're gonna co-contract bridging back up to your comfort zone, sending your knees out over your feet so you're creating knee, good. You're gonna take an inhale, and this time as you exhale I want you to rotate your spine side to side, like you're drawing a figure eight with the pelvis slowly coming down a little bit more each time. Just kind of opening up, and rotating around the spine as you lower it all the way back down.

And now, the women don't feel like it has to be perfect. It's just trying to get some rotation in the spine. Now, we've woken up these little muscles in the back called the multifidus, and so, hopefully, that'll help our hamstrings once I start to get them really working here. All right, now we're not gonna do that. We're gonna come down on a regular articulating bridge, so we won't be shifting or rotating, but we're not gonna come down right away either. I'll talk you through it. You're gonna take an inhale, exhale, you're gonna co-contract. You're pressing into your tripod, you're pressing down into your feet, you're coming up just to your comfort zone. Now, I want you to hold here, take an inhale. We're not gonna come down.

I want you to exhale, and I want you to imagine you're pulling your heels closer to your rear, and that sacrum comes a little bit higher, so your bridge should have come up a little bit more while pulling your heels in, good. Hold it there, take an inhale, and now I wanna deep exhale as you articulate down vertebrae by vertebrae. Think of your back spreading, and getting wider as you come down. If you found it challenging to take it up a little bit higher, bring your heels a teeny bit closer towards your rear, and that'll give you a little help. We're gonna do it like that one more time. How's everyone's hamstrings? Good. All right, let's take an inhale, exhale, co-contract, start to bridge up, so they're sending their knees long, so they're nice and long all the way from the rib cage, all the way to the knee.

They're gonna take an inhale up here, as they exhale they're gonna pull the heels closer towards their shoulder blades, trying to lift their sacrum's teeny bit higher, opening the front of the pelvis. Take an inhale, and exhale. They're gonna articulate down slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae. Good. If you find that when you get up there your knees are starting to fall apart, I have a little trick for that. Before you begin, I want you to drop your knees and together. Good. All right, now as you come up they will naturally open apart, but I don't want you to actively keep them together, or actively press them apart. You're just starting with your femurs folded, and so, the knees are touching each other. Be there the same spot.

All right, take an inhale, and exhale, co-contract, start to bridge up to your comfort zone. We're gonna do that double breath here, take an inhale, exhale, bring it a little bit higher pulling the heels towards the shoulders, lifting the sacrum, there, that's a great alignment with the femur, so you can inhale, and exhale, articulate down slowly vertebrae by vertebrae. Beautiful, okay, now I want you to take your right foot, or ankle, and put it across your left knee like a figure four stretch. I'm sure you can see what they're all doing.

Now, I'm gonna have them bridge with their legs like this. The goal is that the pelvis stays level. You might not come up as high, and if you feel like you need to lock that foot away from you, that standing foot away a little you can. All right, take an inhale, exhale. You're gonna co-contract, you're gonna start to send that left knee nice along, just come up to your comfort zone. Look down at your pelvis. Make sure you've got it level, hold it there. Take an inhale, and exhale, articulate down. Beautiful, let's do that again. You're gonna take an inhale, and exhale, co-contract. You're gonna bridge up, and so, you can see here, Celeste is sending both of her knees towards me, and it helps keep this side of her pelvis up, take an inhale, and exhale, articulate down slowly vertebrae by vertebrae.

We lost Mauro, a little hamstring cramp in the back. Go ahead and switch legs, let's give them a little break. Don't worry, we'll go into stretches after this. All right, ready? Take an inhale, exhale, they're gonna co-contract, they're gonna start to bridge up sending both nice and long. Check that pelvis. Make sure it stays level on that [inaudible 00:08:02]. Take an inhale, and exhale, articulate down slowly, one down in the back, vertebrae by vertebrae. Good, one more time over here, take an inhale, exhale, you're gonna co-contract, start to bridge up, sending the knee out nice and low. Good, well then, inhale, and exhale, articulate, slowly vertebrae by vertebrae.

Great. I've handed everybody a little small towel, so they have like a little hand towel. Everyone go ahead, and grab your hand towel, and what they're gonna do as they're lying back on their back, they're just gonna take, and put one foot around the hand towel, pressing into it, extending that like straight up to the ceiling. You have a choice with the other leg. You can either keep it bend, or you can reach it down long, whichever is more comfortable for you. Now, on that leg that you've got hooked to the towel I want you to inhale, and bend your knee slightly, exhale. I want your sacrum to be heavy, and then, press your foot into the towel.

Beautiful, again, inhale bend, and exhale press, and I want you to try, and get that foot high towards the ceiling, so it's not like you're trying to jam than knee, you're trying to push the heel up. One more, inhale bend, and exhale press. Good, hold it there, and try, and take that leg, and go across your body just a little. The pelvis is still heavy, but you're trying to laterally stretch the outside of the leg a little. Good, go ahead, and bend that knee, and let's go ahead, and stretch the other hamstring. You're gonna take the towel, and put it around the other foot, and then, we're gonna do those same little stretches here, so you inhale, bend that knee, and exhale press that foot into that towel, and you're trying to keep the sacrum really heavy on the floor, but also press the foot into the towel.

Inhale, a slight bend in the knee, and exhale press. Really anchor the leg on the floor, the one that you're not stretching. Inhale bend the knee, and exhale, press. Good, one more, inhale, bend, and exhale, press. Heavy sacrum, press that foot into the towel, and now, gently take that foot across the body, so you can get a good lateral stretch there. Nice. That's all we have time for today. Hopefully, that gives you a little of exercises that you can do at home, and you might wanna do a little bit more stretching than that. I'm sure these guys would like more than what I just gave them. Enjoy, and we'll see you all next week. Bye.

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Cheryl Dunn

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