I want to stop here and breathe for a minute. In my past articles I…
Activated Hamstrings Make Your Splits Easier
I recently saw a reel on Instagram with this tall, thin, gorgeous 20 something young girl demonstrating a Jade Split. It appeared as though she was going to give me the key to unlocking my Jade Split, she showed me a perfect version, then a clip of a wonky version, then her perfect version again. She said sweetly “Does your Jade split look like mine? Or does I look like the second one?”. I totally expected the next line to be “Here are 5 tips to make your Jade Split look amazing” but I was shocked when instead she got right up close to the camera and yelled something like “THEN STRETCH MORE YOU LAZY HAG”.
I’m not going to lie I was angry. Really angry. That’s your big gift to the world…stretch more? You haven’t even had a chance for life to beat you down yet. Your muscles are still soft and pliable and long and gorgeous. I’m old, and stiff and cranky and you think that “stretch more” is the golden ticket?
It took everything in me not to make a rebuttal video and put her in her place, but in the end, I realized she just doesn’t know what she doesn’t know and to her that is the answer.
For me, having a better split means doing my Zone 1 activations and then activating the next muscle in the chain, my hamstrings.
Test Before Activation
Before we get started let’s see how tight your hammies are today. If you are working on a front split, go ahead and try one to see what your range is. If you don’t have a split (or just don’t want to do that) then you can do a forward fold from standing or a straight leg toe touch sitting on the floor. Whatever you chose to do will be what we use to test throughout. Take a second and test and notice where your hamstring flexibility is at this moment.
Hamstring Activation #1
The first Hamstring activation is relatively easy. Think back to when you would check out the boys on the beach, and their swim trunks would ride kind of low on their hips and as you were checking out their cute butts (you know you were) you notice those two little dimples peeking out of the top of their trunks. Ah, the butt dimples. We want to find those and rub on them. It takes some flexibility, but don’t worry if you can’t find the exact spots, as long as you are in the ballpark you will be doing some good.
Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Reach your arms around behind you and find the top of the crack of your behind. Go up about an inch above your butt crack and then move your fingers out about an inch. Start to palpate that area and hopefully you will find two little divots. If you do, poke a finger in there and using as much pressure as you can from that angle start massaging the tissue. If you can’t feel the divots, no worry just get in the general vicinity and start massaging. Do this for about 30 seconds or until your shoulders get angry and slowly come out.
Take a moment to re-test your hamstring flexibility. What do you feel? Note that feeling and then let’s move on.
Hamstring Activation #2
This one is a little tricky to do yourself, so I am going to walk you through what we are trying to accomplish with this activation and then I am going to give you several ways to go about it.
To activate your hamstrings we want to work on the meat of your glutes right under the pelvic ridge. It is hard to feel it on yourself, so if you want to try this on a partner just so you can feel what you are looking for it might make it easier to work on yourself. Palpate the glutes just under the “high ridge” you know, the top of the bubble. If you press into the tissue you should feel the ridge of the pelvis. We want to use the pelvic ridge to “tenderize” the tissue of the glutes. Work all along that ridge, pushing the tissue into the bone. If you get to a spot that is super tender just stay there and work on it until you can get a release.
Super Sneaky Activation Trick #1
To get this area when I am by myself I use a closed fist with my knuckles pushed into the tissue. To do this, I lay on the floor (preferably on a mat), put my knuckles under my booty until I find that pelvic ridge and then sink down onto my knuckles. I start with my knees bent so that my full weight isn’t on my knuckles. Then I play around by doing hip circles, lifting one leg up in the air and slowly bringing it down, splits in the air…basically anything that grinds that tissue onto my knuckles. Note: it will not feel great on your hands/knuckles. You might try putting a pillow between you and the floor to help with the discomfort.
Super Sneaky Activation Trick #2
Use a tool. I like to use a lacrosse ball, soft tissue massage ball or my favorite is the accumobility balls. Place one tool on each side of your booty, right at that line where the tissue meets the pelvic ridge and slowly lower your weight onto the ball. Once you are comfortable in the discomfort start to wiggle around and really let the ball get into your tissue. Continue and move the balls from the inside of your glutes towards the outside, spending about 30 seconds to a minute at each location.
Once you are done with one of the above versions of the hamstring activation, go through a re-test of your hamstring flexibility. What do you feel? How does the test feel? What is going on in your body? Were there any changes?
This activation is the first one in what we call Zone 2. Zone 2 is the area in our body where we store all the crap associated with friends and family. For me, this activation is always a struggle because a ton of emotions surrounding my family surfaces. One day I will tell you the story of the first time I had this activation done on me – I cussed a blue streak for so long and so loud that our poor cab driver in Chicago was terrified of me. I say this just to point out that if anything comes up, any emotions that seems weird, just let it come. And, if you need me I am here just reach out via DM or email ([email protected]) and we can talk it through.
I hope that your hamstrings are feeling more relaxed. To make it the most effective run through the breathing, psoas and glute activations first. And as always, I would love to hear what you are feeling after you activate. You can contact me on Instagram or by email at [email protected]
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