Anatomy — Uttanasana (how to avoid/ alleviate pain in the hamstrings)

Anatomy – Uttanasana
Benefits:
 Stretches hamstrings and spine, strengthens thighs and calms the body down (parasympathetic).
 Stimulates liver and kidneys. Improves digestion.
 Relieves stress and mild depression; reduces fatigue and anxiety.
 Relieves symptoms of menopause in women.
 Effective for ailments like asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
Precautions:
 Back injuries  perform pose with modifications (eg: bend knees or rest hands on the wall, legs perpendicular to torso and arms parallel to floor)

Obstacles: Tightness in hamstrings
Typically the pain is present during forward bends such as Uttanasana or Paschimottanasana and is located in the region of the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) where the hamstrings originate. This soreness can become chronic because continuing to stretch the hamstrings in the same manner aggravates the problem.
Resolve: Balance and Distribute the stretch during forward bends

The hamstrings are located on the backs of the thighs. They are composed of three muscles. On the inside of the thighs are the semimembranosus and semitendinosus. On the outside are the biceps femoris. The hamstrings originate from the ischial tuberosity (except the short head of the biceps, which originates from the femur). They insert on the lower leg. Contracting the hamstrings bends the knee.

1) Biceps femoris (long head)
2) Semitendinosus
3) Semimembranosus
4) Biceps femoris (short head)
The following movements aid to distribute the stretch along the length of the hamstrings:
1) Bending the knees releases the hamstrings at their insertions on the lower legs.
2) Activating the psoas muscle tilts the pelvis forward and stabilizes the origin of the hamstrings. This action draws the torso towards the thighs.
3) Maintaining the pelvis tilting forward and gently contracting the quadriceps to gradually straighten the knees focuses the stretch on the distal regions of the hamstrings and away from the overstretched area at the origin. Contracting the quadriceps also results in “reciprocal inhibition” of the hamstrings and causes them to relax into the stretch.


It is best to build this new method of stretching over time. If pain occurs in the hamstrings, one should back off on the stretch by slightly bending the knees.