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The Hamstrings and Posterior Chain Workshop: Part B

Stretching the Hamstrings

Here’s a safe, simple and effective hamstring stretch that you can use with anyone suffering low back strain, or as a preventative strategy.


It’s taken from my book Stretching on the Pilates Reformer: Essential Cues and Images.

Step 1

Using medium spring resistance allow the carriage to take your leg to the point of tension in the hamstrings i.e. about 5 or 6 out of ten in intensity.

Step 2

Contract the hamstrings isometrically (i.e without moving) using about 30% of your maximum strength.

To do this, hold the strap and simply press your leg toward the floor, without allowing the leg to move.

Do this for five seconds.

Step 3

Take a breath in and on a breath out allow the carriage to slide in toward the foot bar a little more to take up the slack created in the hamstrings by the contraction. Hold this final position for 20 deep breaths.

In the below image, you can see that the gluteus maximus, hamstrings and calf muscles are all affected in the stretch. To accentuate the calf stretch, dorsi flex your foot.

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