Tight hamstrings are something that most of us struggle with. If bending forward with straight legs for you is about as easy as it would have been for a T-Rex, read on.
Actually, I'll go one better. Watch on. A rare video is coming your way. It's almost Spielbergesque.
And in it, not a single hammy will be stretched yet at the end of it you will find it easier to bend forward. In fact, I recommend going backwards to come forwards.
This will be especially useful to those of you that habitually do what is called an anterior pelvic tilt. In laymen's terms, think butt stuck out, lower back arched and lower abdomen protruding.
In the following video, I demonstrate three movements that can help you open up your forward folding range. The second movement is a progression of the first that should only be used by those whose knees are fine with a bit of loaded bending. The third movement will require a greater toleration still of loaded knee bending.
Before watching the videos, note these two important things that I strongly suggest you do as you do any of these movements:
1) Clench your butt cheeks hard throughout the movement like somebody has slipped a £50 note in between them and you only get to keep it if you can do the movements without dropping them. This will encourage length through the muscles at the front of the hips, pushing your pelvis forwards, and will minimise arching of the lumbar spine.
2) Keep tension in your stomach muscles throughout the movement as if you are expecting to be punched in the gut. This will also encourage any bending of the spine you do (more in the first two movements than the last one) to come from the upper spine than the lower spine.
So that's butt clenched with pelvis pushed forwards in all three movements with backwards bending from the upper spine in the first two movements.
You can see me adjusting my distance from the wall in the movements as a means of changing the difficulty of the movements. The aim of movement number one is to eventually get the head to around waist level, the head to the ground in movement number two and the butt to the heels in movement number three. I have suffered quite a bad fall a few days before doing this video meaning my range isn't a textbook example. It isn't even if I'm fully healthy as it is still a work in progress of my own. Whatever your range, that is the range you start with and it will expand with consistent work over time.
Adjusting distance to the wall, number of movements, tempo of movements and doing the movements with added resistance progressively over time will help you improve their range and quality.
Before you try them for the first time, check the ease and range of your forward fold. Most people will find it has improved after doing some of these movements.
To ensure a progression in your forward fold range over time, always follow up these backbending movements with some active forward folding like resisted forward folds or some sort of straight leg lifts to ensure you learn how to use your muscles to hold and pull you deeper into your new range.
Without going into all of the whys and wherefores, this will be an effective means of improving your forward bending range for many of you that have been frustrated with painful and ineffective hamstring stretches for longer than you care to remember.
Sometimes you need to go backwards to come forwards.
Arton "A little backwards" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Performance and Rehabilitation