The last several columns have focused on the elements of a strong walking pattern: good posture, strong ankle flexion and heel strike, balanced weight transfer, and proper stride length for forward (not side to side) movement.

Lower body mobility is critical for a proper walking pattern and also determines your ability to easily perform many basic functional tasks. Hamstring (back of upper leg) flexibility supports a strong walking pattern by supporting hip range of motion for a proper stride length. Hamstring flexibility also supports your ability to get into and out of the tub or a car and allows you to bend forward to reach things on the ground as when doing yard work, gardening, and basic household chores.

Just like it’s important to have muscle balance between the chest and upper back muscle for good posture, it’s important to have muscle balance between the front and back muscles of the legs. Overly tight hamstring muscles can contribute to lower back pain and poor back alignment.

This hamstring stretch enhances lower body mobility to facilitate proper movement, and help prevent muscle injury when going about daily activities.

*Follow physician advice on exercise

hamstring stretch

Exercise Instructions:

Sit on the front edge of a chair with the left leg extended to the front and the right foot on the floor for stability. Flex the ankle and bend forward at the hips slowly, reaching down the leg until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, breathing normally. Sit upright then switch legs to repeat the exercise stretching the right leg. Repeat the full sequence 3 times.

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