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In parts one and two of my hamstring opener series, I focused on increasing flexibility and range of motion in the three hamstring muscles themselves. By doing either of those poses with regularity, you’re bound to feel the positive impact on your lower back as those two major muscle groups are closely intertwined.
As a refresher, the three distinct hamstring muscles run along the back of your thighs and connect from underneath the buttocks to right around the backside of your knees. Their main function is to bend your knees but they also extend your hip—for example, when bringing your thigh behind your torso in your running or walking stride. Tight hamstrings will pull the back of your pelvis downward, diminishing the natural and necessary slight “S” curvature of the lower back. Without that little S-curve (also known as the lordotic curve) your spine isn’t well stacked and your body struggles against gravity to keep you upright. The result is tension, muscle fatigue and discomfort—a.k.a. lower back pain.
Part three of this series focuses on the supporting cast of tight hamstrings and an achy lower back: the adductor group. Adductors, or inner thigh muscles, and groin muscles are closely linked to stiff hamstrings. When big muscles like the hamstrings or quadriceps get overworked as they often do, adductors and abductors are left underdeveloped. This common imbalance can lead to injury. The muscles of your inner and outer thighs play a crucial role in stabilization and movement of the legs and pelvis. One of the key functions of adductors for athletes is that they pull your legs in toward the midline so that as you run your weight stays balanced on your planted foot and your gait doesn’t bow outward, which can lead to rolled ankles and stress on outer knee ligaments. Since they help keep you upright as you stride from left to right, they’re also key to getting maximal power out of each and every step. What athlete doesn’t want a little extra oomph wherever they can get it?
The following—Supine Bound Angle Pose, often called Reclining Butterfly—is the last in my series of three articles revealing my favorite yoga poses for mending and nurturing your hamstrings, and in this case adductors as well. All three poses are designed for all people of all abilities and body types.
Help for Hamstrings, Part III: Supine Bound Angle Pose:
- Lie down on your back. Bend your knees bringing the soles of your feet together and allowing the knees to fall open to either side.
- Add a pillow under each knee or wrap a strap around your knees as depicted to enable yourself to remain comfortable and feel supported in this pose as you hold for 2-3 minutes. Your arms can rest by your side, or atop you hip bones if you’re using a strap—be sure your elbows relax to the mat and you release any tension in your shoulders, neck and jaw.
- When you’re ready to let go of the pose draw your knees into your chest, give them a strong hug and take Happy Baby pose to neutralize the spine and feel some nice compression on your hip-flexors.
Check out Part I (Modified Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose) and Part II (Supine Hand to Foot Pose) for my other therapeutic hamstring openers and keep checking back each month for another Yoga for Athletes Pose of the Month. If you can’t wait until April for more yoga, head over to my website and try my Daily Dozen Yoga Poses for Post-Athletic Recovery.