It’s a little embarrassing when a friend 10 years your senior (and you are already middle-aged) can beat you in just about any athletic endeavor. But I have such a friend who, when she finishes one triathlon or adventure race, immediately trains for the next. Although she can kick my butt, she was having problems kicking her own, so to speak, when she asked me for help. In training for an upcoming half marathon, she felt her hamstrings were getting tight because her stride was getting shorter. Her healthy hip flexion with bent knees suggested the restriction might instead be coming from the hamstring-gastrocnemius connection (what I call the hamstroc) where the two muscles interlock like a square knot on the back of the thigh just above and below the knees. When the leg straightens, they pull against each other, when the knee bends, they let go.
I showed her Sitting Seza adapted for the balls. We placed one therapy ball in the middle of her calves about an inch or two below the backs of her knees (warning: never in the hollow behind the knee!). She sat back on her heels, toes tucked under (ankles in dorsiflexion), and shifted her weight side to side to cross fiber the heads of the gastrocnemius and the semimembranosus. The wide bunny-eyed look she gave me suggested we were on the right track. We did the same thing in plantar flexion.
She didn’t thank me at the time, but later that day, after her 9 mile training run, I got a very nice email saying she felt great and knew this calf and hamstring exercise was going to help relieve her tight hamstrings. Here it is below:
Check out the Yoga Tune Up exercises and pain relief options for your hamstrings on our website.
Watch our free 5 minute foot and ankle video.
Check out our Post athletic stretch DVD