We've got a treat for you this week! Dr. Sarah Lesko shares her famous hammy walk — a fantastic dynamic stretching sequence to improve your posterior chain (that's the back of your body) flexibility. It's ideal for runners, but will help keep you limber no matter what your sport... Runners often have a few key tight areas that cause a lot of downstream problems (achilles tendonitis, hamstring “pulls” or irritation, plantar fasciitis, and hip pain). I’ve found that this one dynamic stretching exercise effectively loosens the entire posterior chain — including calves, hamstrings, etc. I call it the hammy walk, and I try to do this as the first of my warm-up drills, after a workout or long run, and during the day if I’ve been sitting for awhile and feel locked up in the booty.
Try it: Lesko Hammy Walk
- Take a small step forward with your left foot and tense your left quad so that your left leg is straight — meanwhile, keep your right knee bent at a comfortable position.
- Flex your left foot as much as possible (maximally pull your foot upward toward your shin) so that your left posterior chain is in a stretched position.
- Slowly and carefully bend forward at the waist, maintaining a long, neutral spine (rather than rounding forward) and keeping your face forward, until you feel a stretch. — The place you feel a stretch will vary depending on the day and your jammed spots, could be heel, achilles, low calf, high calf, behind the knee, anywhere along your hamstring, right glute, or low back (or all of the above!).
- For the first couple, hold that place of tightness and try to gently deepen the stretch.
- Slowly sweep both hands down on both sides of your left foot.
- Continue sweeping your arms forward and up over your head in a big circle to return to standing.
- Step forward with your right foot and repeat the process, noting how that side feels different.
- Continue to slowly walk forward, alternating feet — As you begin to loosen up, you can speed up the process so that you are doing a little skip hop in between sides.
- Continue for 10 steps to up to 50, depending on how good/bad your legs feel — Doing a few simple sweeps every 30 minutes or so of desk work also really keeps the posterior region loose…
Hit it up, and let us know how it goes!
Dr. Sarah Lesko is a family physician who currently practices part time and also works as Corporate Development Manager for Oiselle, the Seattle-based women's running apparel company. In addition to family medicine, Sarah is certified in Graston, an injury treatment popular among athletes, and is the in-house medical (and stretching!) resource for Oiselle athletes. After a collegiate and post-collegiate running career followed by 17 years of sedentary ways due to injury, Sarah is enjoying training to improve her masters PRs while maximizing physical and mental health.