We get this question a lot, and the answer is two-fold:
- Maintain a healthy baseline length in your hamstrings/glutes by learning to tip your pelvis forward in stretching your back over a yoga wheel, learn to sit and stand in a stacked position. When you tuck your pelvis, you bring your ischial tuberosities (sit bones) in closer to where these muscles attach on the leg. This allows the hamstrings/glutes to adapt to a short resting length. Short hamstrings make you more vulnerable to hamstring injuries when you perform motions that require normal or elongated hamstrings. Tears can happen within the muscle, or, more commonly, where the hamstrings attach to the ischial tuberosities.
- Learn to proper hinge from your hips to bend, whether you are loading the dishwasher, feeding your pets, or setting the table. In this way, you give your hamstrings a big stretch on and off throughout the day. This is a much more effective way of restoring hamstring flexibility than is compartmentalizing your stretches to an exercise period.
Hamstring injuries heal slowly. Nature was not expecting that we would strain our hamstrings frequently. Hip-hinging would have been a routine activity for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, so hamstrings would have been well-stretched and not prone to tearing. So Nature did not provision the area with a rich blood supply. If a hamstring tears, the lack of circulation in the area makes healing a long process.
By hip-hinging to stretch the hamstrings periodically throughout the day and anteverting (tipping) the pelvis to maintain a healthy hamstring baseline length, you are joining the ranks of your ancestors. You will be able to work, play, and live without being strung up from unnecessary and painful injuries that are a pain in the butt.
If you'd like to learn more about how to use a yoga wheel and apply the techniques to a healthy yoga practice for yourself and your students, check out our Teacher Training 2019 and upcoming workshops and events.