Dynamic stretches can be useful before any level of competition and have been shown to reduce muscle tightness and also can to be more effective at reducing stiffness. The following exercises can be useful to not only athletes but also for those who are not inclined to participate in regular exercise, as they help improve muscle flexibility.
The hamstrings are basically a group of three muscles that starts from under the knee and continues up into the buttocks. Hamstring and groin injuries are common in sports that require a high rate of speed, power and flexibility, such as sprinting (as opposed to running), hurling and football.
Lie on your back and place a yoga belt or tie around the base of the left foot (just under the toes).
Hold the belt with both hands, and as you raise your leg at the same time extend the arms fully, until a comfortable stretch is felt.
Keep shoulders and head centred and resting on the floor. Release and repeat with other leg.
This stretch can be done before and after exercise.
Stability balls are great for developing functional strength and core stability. They inexpensive and extremely versatile, just make sure you choose the correct size for your height. Try this groin stretch after your hamstring stretch.
Start by placing your left knee on top of a stability ball. Maintain your balance. Slowly roll the ball out to the side until you feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh. Return to the start and repeat before changing to the other leg.
This article is not a recommendation for your own practice but serves as interesting reading for anyone thinking of going to a yoga class. As with any form of physical exercise, please consult your family doctor beforehand.
Lee Kennedy qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit Yogadara.com or call 0863906343 for more information.