Jackie Lai demonstrates the Ragdoll pose.

Yoga for Runners: Ragdoll pose for hamstring release

By Jackie Lai

Hands up if you have tight hamstrings! I am guessing most of us have tight hamstrings.

Hamstring strains are one of the most common injuries for runners and one third of runners who experience a hamstring strain will re-injure themselves within the first few weeks of returning to running.

Our muscles need to be strong and flexible to prevent injuries. There is a fine line between having muscles that are too strong and muscles that are too flexible.

This is the first of two posts that will talk about how to release those tight hamstrings.

But first, a little bit of anatomy:

We want our muscles to be strong because they can store and return energy to propel us forward. However, if they are too stiff, they become tight. Tight muscles are more prone to being strained and have a higher chance of producing delayed onset muscle soreness. Stretching helps release this tightness.

Stretching creates flexibility. Being too flexible can also make you prone to injuries. Flexible muscles store less energy so they have to work harder to create the same amount of force. This flexibility also has less reinforcement to stabilize our joints.

When your hamstrings are tight, your hips actually get pulled down toward the ground. It is almost like you are in a constant state of sitting. This can lead to low back pain or knee pain = poor performance.

Try this simple Ragdoll pose to release those tight hamstrings:

  • Bring feet hip-distance apart
  • Slight bend at knees
  • Allow your torso to drape over your legs
  • Let your arms hang loose, or bring support under your hands for extra comfort (option to grab the opposite elbow with opposite hands.)
  • Tuck your chin toward your chest
  • Bring some weight to the balls of your feet
  • Gently lift your hips up to the sky
Jackie Lai demonstrates the Ragdoll pose.
Jackie Lai demonstrates the Ragdoll pose.

MOSTLY IMPORTANTLY – LESS IS MORE. As long as you feel something, perfect! No need to force our bodies to go deeper. You will end up hurting yourself more than anything else. Injured body = no training = sad runner.

Remember that all our bodies are different, so your pose might look different than mine, and that’s totally cool! I have demonstrated three variations of what this pose might look like below for you. All three of them are great for releasing those tight hamstrings.

Jackie Lai demonstrates the Ragdoll pose.
All three variations of the Ragdoll pose are great for releasing tight hamstrings.

Stay tuned for the next post to learn how to strengthen your hamstrings.

Until then,

Keep being you, the world needs more you!


Yoga for Runners is a recurring series appearing on the Brainsport blog. Check out our previous articles below:

Jackie Lai is a registered yoga instructor, certified yoga sport coach and triathlon coach based in Saskatoon. Learn more at jackielai.ca.