Are your hamstrings tight? Possibly weak? How can you tell?
Do you dream of being able to achieve better splits in the air?
Berlin-based Aerial Physique Master Trainer Christine Wunderlich put together exercises and tips that you can incorporate into your aerial warm-up and day-to-day routine.
See the video and breakdown and tips below.
Do you sit long hours? Do you find yourself slouching with hips under while sitting? This postural weakness can contribute to muscular weaknesses & lower flexibility in your hamstrings.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt or Lumbar Flexion is where the front of the pelvis rises and back of the pelvis drops (booty seems to disappear as hips tuck under.) This is an indicator of tight hamstrings, likely weak abdominals, weak glute muscles and possibly unstable hips.
Active Stretch. Is it important to strength & stabilize along with stretching to keep the hips stable & strong as well as promote healthy posture.
Best is: Flexible, Stable and Strong.
Remember: Always complete a warm-up that makes you slightly sweaty before stretching.
Are YOUR hamstrings tight?
TEST: Active Hamstring Flexibility
Lay on the ground
Maintain lower back & neutral hips (no arching lower back)
Engage & straighten both legs
Flex one foot
Lift Foot toward your head
Your maximum hamstring flexibility is when you can No Longer Lift your leg without disturbing your hip alignment or straight & engaged legs. Are you less flexible than you thought, possibly more? The 'average' is about a 80 degree maximum.
Exercise 1: Hamstring Nerve Glides
Begin with a straight legs & neutral pelvis. Bend one knee & hold close to chest. Point foot as you straighten the leg and flex foot as you bend. This can be described as a “painting the ceiling” motion. Keep knee tight to your chest. Your thigh should not move position. Your leg will mostly likely NOT be able to fully straighten. This ‘Nerve Glide’ is a light movement that promotes the relaxation of the protective casing around your nerves in the back of your leg, allowing them to prepare to stretch.
X 10-20 Each Leg
Exercise 2: Controlled Active Leg Kicks
Keep hips square. With legs engaged, pointed feet, lift & kick leg. Focus on alignment and activation, not kicking with 100% force. Leg should glide up and down lightly. Keep grounded leg straight and actively pressing into the ground.
X 4 – 8 Each Leg
Exercise 3: Passive & PNF Stretching
Begin with a basic Passive Supine Hamstring Stretch. Both Legs Straight. Use hands on the
back of your extended leg to maintain the stretch. Hold 10 -20 seconds.
PNF Stretch (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation): Press your leg downwards against your hands. Hands will provide resistance so hamstring is active while pressing. Hold 5- 10 Seconds. Release your leg & lift. Hand can provide a light additional pull. Repeat 3-4 X at 70% of your maximum resistance & pull.
Exercise 4: Kneeling Forward Bend
Keeling, extend one leg forward. Engage leg to straighten & flex the foot. Reach forward with flat back, putting hands on ground if possible. Relax & round your back to release the stretch. Engage & lengthen spine to straighten. Repeat X 2.
Next, add extra leg engagement. Relax the knee extended leg. Engage the knee to straighten the leg, heel presses into the ground. Keep hips level & square this can be very intense, so listen to your body.
Exercise 5: Forward Fold Series
Forward Fold: Standing, feet together. Forward fold at hips to a deep forward bend placing hands on the floor (optional: use yoga blocks).
Keep weight on forward on your feet (like you could lift your heels up if needed). Relax shoulders and spine allowing head to drop towards the ground. Option to remove hands from ground & hold elbows.
Compression: Using your hands for balance, engage your abs & pull your head towards your
lower legs. Hold. Keep knees pulled up & legs engaged.
Flat Back: Release curl of compression & lengthen spine to flat back. Lift chest & look forward to the diagonal. Body might lift. Use your hands for balance. Keep weight on the front of your feet. Imagine your tailbone points to the sky.
Repeat X 2
Re-Test: Repeat active flexibility test
Do you feel a difference? Did you gain more range? Remember, small improvements add up!
CONGRATULATIONS!! You did it! Dance Party Time!!
Hamstrings can be challenging to stretch & require patience and consistency. Even small
improvements will add-up & with time you will feel improvements to your flexibility, aerial work and daily posture.
P.S. Did you know AP Master Trainer Christine offers virtual 1:1 coaching? Have aerial-specific goals you'd like guidance in achieving? Putting together an aerial act? Christine can help! Click here to check out her Aerial Edge program!