Keep your hamstrings happy with this month’s pose!
Begin in table pose, on your hands and knees. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart on your mat, and your knees hip-width apart on your mat. Place a blanket under both knees. For more stability, tuck your toes under, grounding them into the mat. Step your right foot forward in between your hands with your toes pointed forward.
Inhale and lift your body to an upright position and place your hands on your hips or blocks. Draw your right hip back and your left hip forward, squaring off your hips. Your left knee should be inline with your left hip. Exhale, straighten your right leg, keeping a micro-bend in the front knee, and flex your right foot so your toes are pointed towards the sky. Place a blanket under the front heel. Inhale and lengthen through the torso by drawing the navel in towards the spine and reaching the crown of your head up. Gently draw the shoulder blades together and down your back. Exhale, begin to fold over the front leg, bending at the hips, reaching your chest forward, maintaining a long spine. It’s important you don’t round your spine.
Begin practicing this pose for 5-10 seconds. Try and work up to holding the pose for 30 seconds. To come out of the pose bring your right hand to the inside of your right leg, meeting your left hand. Swing your right leg back coming into table. Repeat on the other side.
Half front splits pose has many benefits for runners as it stretches your back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves and Achilles.
Back and Spine
Half splits pose stretches a group of muscles called the erector spinae which run along the spine. These muscles include the spinalis, longissimus and Iliocostalis and are responsible for side-to-side rotation and keeping the back the straight.
Keep your hips square, so that both hips are pointing forward. In the beginning, keeping squared hips will prevent you from getting as deep into the posture. However, practicing the correct technique ensures you are evenly stretching your body, leading to faster gains in your flexibility over time.
The quadriceps straighten the knee, stretching all three of the hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus). Opening up the hamstrings helps to prevent tightness and pain in the lower back, which can be especially beneficial to runners. It’s important to keep the front foot flexed to activate the hamstrings.
The calves are made up of two muscles the gastrocnemius and soleus. The tibialis anterior muscle (located along the front of the shin bone) flexes the foot stretching the gastrocnemius as well as the achilles tendon.
It’s important to warm up all muscles before statically stretching them. This is a great stretch to do after your next run and is also the preparation pose for full front splits.