No matter what your sport, pliable hamstrings are key for mobility. Keeping those muscles limber is crucial for range of motion and injury prevention, but a little known fact is that the hamstrings span both the backs and sides of your thighs. Zeroing in on the back area for a good hamstring stretch isn’t quite enough. Since we’re so forward-oriented, even when stretching we tend to focus on the front and back of the body, and the neglected sides of the body tighten up, resulting in issues such as IT band pain and hip strain. Try it: Cross-leg forward fold
This simple forward fold stretches the lateral hamstrings — that’s your outer hamstrings, also known as abductors, which also provides relief to the IT band. Be sure to check out our forward fold tutorial video first so you’re sure to bend over properly, then add this variation on! Great for pre-, post-, or during your workout. Grab your ball (soccer, basketball, or volleyball) for a little extra support.
- Find even balanced standing
- Bend your knees slightly
- Cross your right leg over your left and press down evenly through both feet — make sure your right leg doesn’t lock your left knee back.
- Inhaling, lengthen your spine skyward
- Exhaling, start to fold forward — keeping that length in your spine (without rounding your back!)
- Try to bring your belly close to your thighs
- Let your arms hang and drop your head so that your neck relaxes
- Focus on where you feel the stretch happening — you should feel it more in your outer hamstrings/outside of the thighs between the knees and hips
- If you feel it in the backs of your knees, bend your knees more
- Hold for 5 – 10 deep breaths before switching sides