Becoming more limber is one the goals of most exercise regimens, which is one reason why yoga stretching poses are so integral to holistic health. A brand new blog post at the Huffington Post noted that it is especially important to address the flexibility of one's hamstrings, since these muscles can cause serious pain if injured.
Health writer Eva Norlyk Smith stated that the "number one yoga mistake" is to go beyond what your muscles can handle, resulting in sprained or torn hamstrings, or chronic lower back pain. One of the most commonly injured muscle groups are the hamstrings, which are found at the back of the upper leg.
Among beginners, these muscles are often quite tight. Stretching too hard too fast can result in leg and back pain.
Unsure whether your hamstrings are tight? Try this quick test. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Reach out toward your toes. Now slowly bend forward, trying to touch your fingertips to your toes or the soles of your feet. Only stretch as far as you are comfortable.
Did you have difficulty touching your toes? Did you feel strong discomfort in your legs and back? If so, you probably have tight hamstrings, something that yoga stretching for beginners can gradually improve.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that people who use this muscle group often – like yoga practitioners – maintain a year-round stretching routine designed to keep the legs flexible.
Smith added that yoga experts often have the opposite problem – namely, that their hammies are too loose, which allows them to stretch their inner thighs too far, occasionally leading to pelvic or lower back pain. She recommended that extra-flexible students take it easy on their hamstrings.
Numerous studies have connected increased flexibility to improvements in balance, mobility and quality of life.