Technique Tuesday — Forward Fold Hamstring Stretch Video (Jasyoga Hamstring Flexibility Tutorial)

Ah, if only we had a dollar for every time an athlete has told us, “I’m so inflexible, I can’t touch my toes.” Here’s the deal — when it comes to forward folding, the goal is really just to give your hamstrings a good stretch — toe touching is optional. That stiffness that you feel in the backs of your legs, especially post-workout or post-long day at the office, needs to be addressed because tight hammies not only feel awful, they often contribute to low back pain, and will limit your range of range of motion in your stride (ahem, attention runners) and movement overall. So time to start forward folding, and doing it properly. You’d be surprised by the number of crazy ways we’ve seen this seemingly simple move executed. Common mistakes such as locking the knees and rounding the back cause additional strain in those areas and do little to actually stretch those screaming muscles in the backs of your legs. Remember, you’re trying to forward fold, not face plant. Trying to gain a few more downward inches by doing an improper forward fold wont get you any closer to your toes, but it will get your butt closer to the floor!

Try it: Forward fold hamstring stretch — Jasyoga hamstring flexibility tutorial

This tutorial will teach you how to bend over properly in order to build and maintain hamstring flexibility. Practice with Head Coach Erin Taylor’s video 2-minute tutorial (above), or follow the sequence below. Then practice on your own pre-workout, post-workout, or any time your hammies could use a little refresh.

  • Find even balanced standing
  • Bend your knees slightly
  • 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 onto your thighs (You might need to bend your knees A LOT to get there, that’s okay!)
  • Let your arms hang and drop your head so that your neck relaxes
  • Focus on where you feel the stretch happening — it should be in the belly of the hamstrings (the biggest part in the middle of the back of your legs), not your knees
  • If you feel it in the backs of your knees, do yourself a huge favor and bend your knees more so you feel it in your hamstrings
  • One you feel the stretch, hold for 5 – 10 deep breaths