DownDog App Saved My Hamstrings

DownDog App Saved My Hamstrings

Did your flexibility suffer in lockdown too?

Being stuck inside was hard enough, let alone trying to do a workout in a one bedroom flat, so I used the visit outside to do a workout. Since winter in the UK is fairly wet, I couldn’t just go and do my workout in the park – I started running.

But running, as excellent as it is for a cardiovascular fitness, it’s not that great for flexibility – If my hamstrings were any shorter, I’d be permanently sitting down.

YOGA HELPS WITH FLEXIBILITY ISSUES AND STRESS

a person in a shell-suit struggling to stretch

Yoga, in general is an excellent way to improve flexibility, and the beautiful thing is, it can be easily done from home. Obviously, visiting a studio would have been a lot better, but that just wasn’t an option this year.

Luckily, we live in the digital age and there are many apps anyone with a smartphone can use. You don’t even have to be exceptionally knowledgeable about yoga, as long as you know your limits and are willing to start with the easy stuff first, without trying to rush the progress, everything is fine.

It’s also an incredible way how to tackle stress at these difficult times, or any other times you feel stressed for that matter. The benefits of yoga on human mind are very well proven and even though most people don’t understand the connection, it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Yoga has a unique way of taking your mind away from stress and worries, making your body feel a lot better and fresher at the same time.

SAVE YOUR MUSCLES FROM SHORTENING

muscular lady with incredible flexibility

As I said, my hamstrings are really tight, not only from the running, but from weightlifting, too. Which was my main way of exercising before all this madness kicked off.

I am also incredibly tight in hips and shoulders, so all this definitely had to be addressed.

And you don’t have to be an athlete to have these issues – home office didn’t help either. Prolonged sitting position shortens muscles like:

  • Hamstrings at the back of your legs
  • Hip muscles
  • Chest muscles

Hamstrings are a very important group of muscles aiding with many moves, excess shortening causes inability to reach the ground from a standing position. Hamstrings also help your butt muscles to work well.

Hip muscles are also a group and these probably suffer the most from sitting – they get weak and short. The muscle struggling most is a hip flexor, it’s the only muscle that connects the upper and lower body – it runs from lower back all the way to the top of your thigh-bone. If the Hip flexor becomes shortened, there is a good chance that we might start suffering from lower back pain.

I have covered some hip flexor stretches in an article about staying fit in lockdown – feel free to check it out.

When we sit over a computer for a long time, our body is hunched forward. Therefore, the chest muscles get shortened over time, while the muscles on your upper back become significantly lengthened – these factors cause shoulders to face forwards and hunched back appearance.

All these issues are very time-consuming to fix and it can often be very demotivating, because the progress is so slow.

HOW DID DOWNDOG HELP?

It’s an incredibly easy-to-navigate app with great amount of customisable features.

This is what your main screen looks like:

screen shot of downdog main screen

Here, you can chose:

  • How long do you want your practice to be.
  • What type of yoga would you like to practice today:
    • Vinyasa
    • Hatha
    • Ashtanga
    • Sun Salutations
    • Yoga Nidra (meditation)
    • Chair Yoga
    • Yin (deep stretches)
    • And how demanding you want it to be:
      • Gentle
      • Restorative
      • Quick flow
      • No warmup
  • What would you like to focus on:
    • None
    • Aerobic
    • Back strength
    • Backbends
    • Chest and Shoulder stretches
    • Core strength
    • Flexibility
    • Hamstring stretches
    • Hip Stretches
    • Low back stretches
    • Side body stretches
    • Standing balances
    • Twists
    • Breathing
    • Neck stretches
    • Foot and Ankle stretches
    • Hand, wrist and arm stretches
    • Quad stretches
    • Glute strength

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. When you swipe the main panel app, you can also pick a voice of your coach and different types of music for the background – from gentle relaxing wind chimes to beats.

downdog app screenshot

You can even choose the length of the Savasana at the end to suit your needs – if the timer runs out and you still need more, it’s OK, the app ends the practice but keeps the music playing until you switch it off.

After hitting the start button, the app will generate a completely unique sequence. I don’t change my settings often and usually use Hamstrings and Hips setting, and the sequence is always different.

Obviously, you can also set how advanced you are – the app will then generate poses adequate to your level. There is no point to make you do a standing split if you struggle with standing on one leg.

The Beginner settings is very basic, so even if you haven’t done yoga before, there’s no need to worry.

So, how did this app help?

It’s random sequence generating algorithm allowed me to keep using this app without getting bored too quickly and I have made incredible progress just by using it for 30 mins a day for a morning practice. I cannot wait for the weather to become better again, go to a park and practice in the sun.

HOW MUCH?

It’s one of the cheaper fitness and well being apps, most of them set you back around £70.

Downdog, at the full price, is £49.99 a year, or £8.99 a month.

The app is currently offering a 75% discount, which means a year only costs you £11.99. That’s £1 a month.

I got my yearly subscription for £29.99 last year, which I think was a very good deal and I will be renewing it even at a full price of £49.99.

It’s a fraction of a price that you would pay for a yoga class and, because of its wide settings, it can be tailored to just about anybody.

WHY IS IT THE BEST?

The app does a complete walk-through of every pose, including when to inhale and exhale. It also flags up common mistakes. For example, it always reminds you to square your hips in a pyramid pose or to square the shoulders in a dancer’s pose.

It also tells you where you should be feeling the tension so that you can check whether you are performing the pose correctly.

There is a handy counter in the counter which shows you how much time is left in each pose. It really helps when you are holding more challenging poses.

It allows you to save your favourite practices and it also tracks your attendance in a handy calendar.

Honestly, I think they thought of everything.

Even the small things like changing your coaches voice or the music in the background. It’s definitely the most customisable Yoga App out there!



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