Hamstrings Strength and Flexibility

 

Our hamstrings consists of 3 muscles the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris.

The hamstrings cross 2 joints, the hip and the knees, and they are involved in hip extension as well as knee flexion.

picture of hamstring

(Picture source)

Runners and weekend warriors  tend to neglect their hamstrings in their strength training and flexibility routines and resulting at times in strains, tears and pulls. Many times this injury occurs because of a muscular imbalance, the quadriceps being more dominant or stronger than the hamstrings. This type of injury is very difficult to heal, sidelining runners/athletes for weeks.

The injured hamstring can be classified by the following:

Grade 1 is a mild strain with a few muscle fibers being torn.

Grade 2 is a moderate strain with significant loss on strength

Grade 3 is a complete tear of the muscles.

In order to prevent injuring the hamstrings, it is important to implement exercises that both strengthen and stretches  the hamstrings. Pilates is a great addition to any fitness routine, because Pilates creates an evenly conditioned body therefore eliminating imbalances.  Personally what I really like about the flexibility side of Pilates is that you are always moving, there is no static holding of the exercises. As one of the principles of the method is control, you are able move your body with proper control and stability.

Another benefit of Pilates, which we all hear about is that Pilates builds a strong core. The core is not only the deep abdominals , but it also includes your low back muscles, pelvic floor, the muscles around your hips and your glutes. Having a strong core will help your body to move more efficiently and with precision.

Here are a few Pilates mat exercises that will help to strengthen not only the hamstrings but the other muscle groups as well.

Leg Pull Down

Get into a plank position, with shoulders over wrists, the inner thighs together. Lift one leg towards the ceiling with your foot pointed. Lift one leg  and pulse it twice towards the ceiling. Lower the leg and repeat on the next leg.

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Keep your hips lifted as the leg lifts. Repeat 6 times on each leg.

Leg Pull Up

Get into a reverse plank position, wrists  under shoulders and hips lifted high. Lift one leg to the ceiling and pulse up twice. Lower the leg to the mat and repeat on the other side.  Repeat 6 times.

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Swimming

Lie on your stomach, reaching your arms overhead and your legs straight.  Lift the left arm and right leg towards the ceiling, and quickly switch arms and legs maintaining the balance on the center of your torso.

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Keep your neck long and no shifting of the hips.

This next exercise is part of the Pilates abdominals series of the 5 exercises used to strengthen the abdominals and to develop pelvic stability. but it also gives you a nice stretch for the hamstrings therefore improving its flexibility.

There is no strength with out flexibility.

Single Straight Leg Stretch

Lie on your back, round your and head and upper body off the mat, reaching one leg to the ceiling and the other leg extended and reaching to in front of you. Place your hands on the leg that is reaching towards to the ceiling.

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Pulse the leg towards you twice and quickly switch legs and repeat on the other side.  Keep your torso still as the legs move, abdominals engaged, maintain stability in the low back and pelvis.

Let’s keep our hamstrings strong and flexible. Hope you enjoyed this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

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This week I would like you to  have positive thoughts. Think  positively and with appreciation for all your body has done for you.  I am not stopping there I would like you  to think about all you have accomplished in your life. One positive thought a day.

We all need to be reminded to do this. Stop being so hard on your self.   See you here next week for an exercise challenge.

I hope to inspire and motivate you. Have a great week.

 

 

Feel free to comment and to share.

 

Weekly Challenges

Disconnect to take a Breath.

Breathe

This weeks Challenge is for you  to take a few minutes out of your day to disconnect. What I mean by that is, take a breath, step away from social media, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Play some mellow tunes or just close your eyes and “rest” for a few minutes.  We get so caught up with work, checking Facebook etc  that we have forgotten to just enjoy the little things. I am guilty of this as well.  We need to make it a habit of taking thoughtful action on giving our own well-being our full attention.

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I will be doing this with you as well. I don’t know about you but the pictures above already puts me in a mellow mood.

What will you do this week for your personal well-being?  Share your ideas in the comment section below.

Make it a great week!!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Challenges

We will be focusing on 2 exercises this week:

Balancing Star Plank 

Balancing Star Plank

Balancing Star Plank

Get into the side plank position. So if you start on your left side, your right arm should be extended to the ceiling, now here is the twist, instead of raising your right leg, you will keep the right leg firmly planted on the floor and swing your left leg forward. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat on the other side. 3 reps each side.

 

High V  ( this is a classic move used in Barre classes)

High V

High V

Source 

Stand next to your support, feet in a narrow V. Rise onto the balls of your feet, keeping your heels glued together; bend your knees, bringing your butt down toward knee level. Slowly move down and up by an inch for 30 seconds. Repeat, smaller and faster, for another 30 seconds.

Keep your abs engaged, shoulders away from your ears, neutral spine and breathe!!

 

 

 

 

 

Listen…To Your Body

LISTEN………….

I always tell my clients and myself to ‘listen to your body”.  Many times we wait until we are injured and either not able to workout or we have to scale our exercise sessions a lot.

When we are in our 20’s and  early 30’s we  are able to push our bodies to its limits and without our bodies giving us any “back talk” or push back. Basically our bodies did as it was told so to speak. But as you get older you realize you cannot workout the same way you did in earlier years, yes your body has a voice and its talking to you.   Sometimes it whispers to you with a little twinge or minor ache here and there, basically a warning that says “slow down, take it easy, I need a day off, be kind and gentle to me .” Sometimes we may listen and cut back but other times we are so focused on getting our workout in and wanting that intense sweat we “power/ push through it until an injury has derailed us and knocked us on your butt.

 

I am a firm believer in cross training and you can do this by incorporating  flexibility training in your weekly routines, for example Pilates is a fantastic method of exercise to add to your routine, it not only stretches you but it also strengthens you and more importantly it will keep your core strong and your spine flexible. As Joseph Pilates said ” You are only as young as your spine is flexible”.

 

Other ways to cross train is by adding cycling, swimming, dancing, hiking, hula hooping Barre exercises adding weight training if you are not already do this.

 

The other aspect of honoring and listening to our bodies is to feed it wholesome, nourishing food. Including lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats in our daily diets and always hydrate, drink your water.

Let us love, respect, nourish, mindfully care for and move our bodies so we are able to continue this journey of movement into our  80’s and 90’s.

 

Have you been listening?

 

Extras from around the web:

 

Feeling Compressed?

The Importance Of Staying Fit and Healthy,Thriving and Finding Balance

Eat less,Exercise More isn’t The Answer For Weightloss.

Mediterranean Vegan Kale Salad

 

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