My mother-in-law is in her 70s and remarked with pride at the weekend that she can easily touch her toes.
This made me smile for 2 reasons: it’s great she still has this flexibility and her comment reminded me that being able to touch your toes is still one of the classic measures of flexibility for many people.
The state of your hamstrings will have a big effect on whether you feel flexible or not – if you run or do a lot of walking you might notice they can get tight pretty quickly. I’m certainly doing so much more walking now I’m on maternity leave and needing strong legs to push the pram up the hills surrounding our house.
The good news is your hamstrings can also stretch out fairly quickly too. The pose below, called ‘runner’s stretch’ is brilliant for loosening your hamstrings. If you can find time to do this 3 or 4 times a week you will really notice the tightness reducing in your legs.
The runner’s stretch
A good starting point for this pose is downward dog. Downward dog is a really good leg stretch in itself so serves as a great warm-up for runner’s stretch.
To move from downward dog to runner’s stretch bring your right leg forward and drop your left knee to the ground. Make sure the knee of your left leg is directly under your hip and if you’re doing this stretch on a hard floor, a blanket or towel under your knee will make it more comfortable.
Point the toes of your straight leg up to the celling. It’s ok to bend your knee if there’s no way your hamstrings will let you straighten this leg.
Finally, place your hands on the mat – either have your fingertips on the mat or if you can, have your hands flat.
For some people this will be more than enough! If that’s the case for you, stay here for 5-8 breaths and move back to downward dog when you have finished. Come into the pose again but this time with the left leg forward and the right knee bent.
If you do want to take this stretch a bit further then as you breathe out, move your chest towards your straight leg. This intensifies the stretch and feels sooo good!
As with the first version of the pose – try to stay here for 5-8 breaths and move back to downward dog when you have finished.
Come into the pose again, this time moving the left leg forward and keeping the right knee bent.
I find this stretch brilliant for sorting out a tight hamstring and I hope it works for you too.