Our hamstrings are such a powerful and important group of muscles… that are often COMPLETELY forgotten about. They are important in almost every sport or activity that we perform, and to prevent injury it is essential that they are super strong! In this blog I’ll run through a few tips to help strengthen your hamstrings and what can occur if you don’t!
The hamstring is a large group of muscles consisting of three smaller muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris. These muscles cross over both our hip and knee joint and helps to both bend the knee and extend the knee. The muscle under most strain in sports requiring explosive movements (I.e sprinting) and kicking sports (I.e AFL or soccer) .
Some of the more common injuries associated with hamstring weakness can be:
- Hamstring tears – When considerable loads are put through the muscle tissue in a stretched position, a tear through the mid portion of the muscle may occur. Most times muscle strains require a tailored strength and rehabilitation program.
- Hamstring tendon issues – Tendon issues occur when slightly excessive loads are placed through the hamstring muscle over a long period of time. Often occurring in middle age and above patients and can either occur in the middle of the tendon or where it inserts into the pelvis.
- Low back pain – Weakness in the hamstring may not lead to a specific muscle pathology by can contribute to pathology elsewhere. When force production is lacking from the hamstring muscle, compensation may occur in the lumbar spine which may contribute to low back pain.
- Hamstring muscle tightness – Long term over use of muscles can lead to a feeling of tightness. Strength exercises that both increase strength while lengthening the muscles are very effective to increase muscle length and decrease feelings of tightness.
Increasing strength will look different for each person, but here are three examples of exercises that may be right for you.
- Hamstring Bridge – start with both feet on a chair and your knees bent to roughly 45 degrees. Slowly lift your hips towards the roof, then slowly control down.
- Hamstring curls with band – Lie face down on the floor with a band tied around the base of the chair. Loop your foot through the band and then slowly bring your heel towards your bottom. Slowly extend your knee back to the starting position.
- Deadlift with bar – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding a weighted barbell. Slowly slide the weight down the front of your thighs, while sending your hips back. Stop when you feel a moderate stretch through the hamstrings, then slowly return to the starting position. Ensure the muscle effort is coming from your glutes and hamstrings, and not your lumbar spine.
These are just some general exercises for hamstring strengthening. Strength programs need to be tailored to your specific needs and current strength. If you need any help with hamstring rehabilitation, injury prevention or specific strengthening, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Physiotherapists.