Opening up your hamstrings – An Interview with Madeline Black

Got tight hamstrings? Madeline Black’s advice might help.

Pilates & movement expert Madeline Black

When I was at the Pilates Method Alliance Conference, I had a chance to sit down with an old friend, Madeline Black. I don’t remember exactly when I met Madeline but I think I’ve known her for at least a decade.

Madeline is a leader in pilates education. She studied with Pilates Elders Eve Gentry and Romana Kryzanowska. She’s also GYROTONIC® certified and studied with GYROTONIC® founder Juliu Horvath. She also studied Orthopedic Massage (now known as the Hendrickson Method) from Dr. Tom Hendrickson. She present at conferences worldwide including Pilates On Tour,  the Body Mind Expo Conference,  Pilates Style Magazine and obviously the Pilates Method Alliance.

To have an idea what to speak with her about, I looked over her recent work.

I follow Madeline’s twitter feed and also her blog. Her last several posts were teaching about opening up the shoulder girdle so I wanted to go in a different direction. I’ve been thinking doing a series on opening the hamstrings so it seemed like the perfect topic for our talk. She had some new, interesting info for me.


Once I got back to work, I tried these ideas out.

When I was training any clients this week who have chronically tight hamstrings, I would have them start their hamstring series (this is all GYROTONIC® training) and ask them to really notice which hamstring was more tight. I’d then sit them up and use the Foot Rubz ball on that foot only.

I had them work the ball exactly as Madeline Black suggested: the connective tissue just in front of the heel, then across the ball of all five toes and finally right into the center of the foot. Across the board, 100% of the time, when I had the clients return to the hamstring series, they said the leg we had just worked on was more open. It was visually apparent in their movement too.

I tried it for myself at Metal Yoga class on Saturday.

When I got to class on Saturday I started warming up and stretching out a little when a little light bulb went on. I started massaging my feet then went back into my warm up hamstring stretches. The depth of my stretches increased immediately after the foot massage.

Sitting all day, as most people do now days, is a major cause of tight hamstrings. And tight hamstrings are a big cause of low back pain. Get one of those Foot Rubz, keep it in your office desk and once or twice a day, massage your feet as Madeline Black suggests. Then come on back here and let me know how your body feels with a comment.

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