One of the hardest things to achieve in Pilates and most body work, is balance between the upper and lower body or the torso and the legs. Tight hamstrings and hips can pull the pelvis and spine out of alignment making symptoms worse. To achieve free movement of the leg while the torso remains in neutral spine, without undue stress and tension try the stretches below, photos courtesy of the Yoga Journal, March 2012. These stretches can be challenging, thus why working with an instructor is important. A good instructor can help you re-adjust to maximize results. Relax and breath your way through these stretches – they will change the relationship you have with your body.
Hamstring stretch: with a resistance band or yoga strap. Relax the front of the thigh especially right where the thigh begins at the front of the hip. Exhale press through your foot like it is flat on the ceiling. Inhale bend knee and come out of the stretch slightly, exhale repeat. Keep lengthening sitz bones away from head and maintain neutral lumbar spine. Additions: move straight leg across mid-line of body, move outside mid-line of body staying within a range comfortable for you. Eventually complete straight leg circles, with the assistance of the band then without – keep hips stable!
Deep Rotator Stretch: There are 6 deep hip rotators most of them rotate the leg externally. Place both feet on the wall with legs at 90 degrees, cross right ankle over left. If you are unable to do this without twisting or hiking the hips (ie you cannot keep your hips level) push away from the wall until you can. Exhale push bent knee and lengthen sitz bones away from head, maintain neutral lumbar spine, inhale release stretch, exhale repeat for several breaths. If tight try this for 5-10 minutes on each side.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Freeing up the front of the hip to come.