When training the muscles of our thighs, athletes naturally tend to focus on the quadriceps … the power behind the impact that takes us every step of the way. During both our strengthening and stretching exercises, the quadriceps are easy to target (anyone squats?), And when the knee position is aligned, they tend to stay fairly healthy. Although hamster straps receive less attention, they can significantly affect the activity of the quadriceps and the integrity of our stride. The backs of the three muscle sections are a complex group of muscles that take care of bending the knee and extending the hip. Running places special demands on these muscles as they contract to balance the vigorous movement of the quadriceps. The operation of the lap tracks controls this "fall" of running motion by pulling the leg back into position and extending the hip to the next step. As a result, hamsters are often as underdeveloped as the strength of the quadriceps, as well as dense, as the sport requires constant contraction and potential deflection. These imbalances can affect knee and lower back stability and pain, as well as reduce core strength and integrity, so focusing on stretching and strengthening these muscles after your next run can improve your strength and endurance over time.
Fortunately, hamstring training does not require any special equipment and is an easy addition to home or post-workout training. Many classic yoga postures strengthen and lengthen just those muscles and can be easily adjusted to work in every direction.
Part I, Yoga Runners, Strengthening Jerks
The action of the Hamstring slows down the powerful action of the four-wheeler as it drives the runner forward. Because gravity naturally helps with this process, and since we tend to target four leg strengthening routines, hamsters are often underdeveloped, resulting in a loss of thrust at each step and the integrity of the support for the hips, knees and lower back. Simple reinforcing postures help eliminate this imbalance and improve strength, core integrity, and knee health.
Standing bow (dancer): While standing on the left foot, grasp the inside of the right foot. Bring the right knee down and the left one in line. Kick back your right leg firmly with your right arm, causing the left arm and shoulder to reach the back of your leg and hips. Hold at least five breaths, focusing on lowering the right hip and stomach, lifting the right leg, and lifting and opening the chest better. Repeat on the other side. Opens hip and hip joints, strengthens hip extensions and knee joint.
Axle / wheel: Lying on the floor, keep your heels on the floor and bring them close to the bottom, raising your knees to the ceiling about six inches. Press down on your heels to raise the bottom as high as possible. Keep at the top. For your bike, move your hands with your fingertips facing your shoulder. Raise your upper body with your forearms, keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders and wrists. You can increase the difficulty by lifting one leg alternately. Increases knee flexion and hip extension, supporting healthy knee alignment.
Third Warrior: Start by standing with your hands over your head. Hands can be together or shoulder apart. When stepping on your right foot, aim towards the left toe, stretching behind the left foot. Lower your torso and raise your left leg until both are parallel to the floor. Hold five breaths, focusing on raising your left foot higher and lowering your left hip in parallel. Repeat on the right. It strengthens the hip extensions, increasing the strength of your running and balancing the quads. You can also move from Warrior Three to Standing Split by slightly bending your leg as you reach down, then stretching both legs toward a vertical gap.
These strengthening yoga postures improve your stride strength, knee alignment, and buttocks and core activation. You can balance their effects on the body with the special stretching method described in Part II (coming soon).
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, and Clinical Social Worker based in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.
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