Hamstrung by Tight Hamstrings, Part I

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Have you ever tried to bend over to put on your shoes or socks and you can’t quite make it because your hamstrings are so tight or painful? You are not alone. In the last 8 weeks I have had a lot of my clients asking me about how to ‘stretch out’ their hamstrings.


Consider this – tight hamstrings are a symptom, they are not the cause of the problem. When we are not moving well for whatever reason, in the low back, hip or even in our necks our hamstrings can come to the rescue to help or protect the thing that isn’t working. Great that we are so adaptable as human beings. Unfortunately, it’s not so great when the pattern that once helped starts to become a bigger problem.

Taking a step back to slow down and move mindfully will allow you to spot unhelpful patterns and learn to move with greater ease and free those hamstrings. You are setting a new default for the way your body moves and this takes time. Although we can now get replacement parts we only get one body. What you invest in time and patience up front will set you up for success in the longer term.


Let’s explore sitting on your mat. You will need a big bath towel and / or a bolster.

  • Try sitting with your behind right on your mat with your legs in any comfortable position.
  • Notice if your tailbone starts to tuck under or if you feel this in your low back. Are your knees up in the air? Is your torso hanging on to keep you in this position?
  • Now trying folding up your towel, to thickness of the length of your thumb. Sit on your folded towel. Does your back, legs, or torso feel more at ease – is it easier to breath?
  • Now try folding your towel to make it twice as thick (or a bolster) and try seated easy posture on this. What feels more stable, free or relaxed? Does anything feel tighter?
  • Choose the height where your low back, torso and breathing are most at ease.
  • Try a few of your favourite ‘stretches’ from here while only going as far as you can without creating an actual ‘stretch’. What do you notice as a result of this new seated position?

I would love to hear what you discovered.