Hamstring Exercises – The Best Exercises to Strengthen and Stretch
Doing exercises to strengthen hamstrings is essential if you want to prevent an injury such as the rupture of one of these muscles and to recover knee injuries such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament . Today we teach you the best exercises for hamstrings for runners.
The hamstring muscles belong to the set of muscles of the thigh and are located in the posterior area of the thigh.
Its main function is to extend the hip and flex the knee. So these muscles are very important when doing everyday activities or sports such as running, jumping, dancing or simply helping us maintain good posture.
When the knee is flexed, the hamstrings are also involved in internal and external rotation of the knee.
EXERCISES FOR ISCHIOTIBIALS
Whether you are a runner or not, doing hamstring exercises is essential.
- If you lead a sedentary life and spend a lot of time sitting in your day to day , your hamstrings become stiff and shortened. This produces muscle decompensation and can cause pain in the lumbar area , knee, etc.
- If you are a runner, doing exercises to strengthen hamstrings is key to preventing muscle injuries. In addition, it is proven that if the strength of the hamstrings is 10-15% less than that of the quadriceps there is a greater risk of suffering knee injuries such as ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN ISCHIOTIBIALES
As I have told you before, strengthening hamstrings is essential to improve posture and prevent or recover from injury.
We have said that the main functions of the hamstrings are to extend the hip and flex the knee. So the best exercises for hamstrings will be those in which these movements are performed.
1. Machine femoral curl, with rubber, pulley, eccentric pulley
The femoral curl can be done with different materials, such as an elastic band . It is a very simple, open kinetic chain hamstring exercise. Therefore, for initiated people or people with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and who have knee hyperextension, it is a good exercise to start strengthening the hamstrings.
- Lie on your stomach with your abdomen and pelvis flat on the floor.
- Contract your abdomen hard and bend your knee without lifting your pelvis off the floor.
2. Femoral curl on TRX, fitball, Flowin …
By doing a femoral curl with these materials you will be able to work the eccentric phase of the movement and in addition to gaining strength you will also improve the flexibility of the hamstrings.
- Lie on your back and rest your feet on the device you are going to work with.
- Activate the abdomen and glutes to lift the hips off the ground.
- Bend one or both legs (one leg is more intense) without your pelvis and lower back moving.
- Return to the starting position correctly controlling the movement.
3. Nordic curl
This exercise for hamstrings is not suitable for everyone as it is very demanding and you have to control the middle zone very well so that it is not modified.
- Get on your knees and put your feet in a place that will stop so they don’t come off.
- Activating the abdomen and glutes well, bring the trunk aligned with your thighs towards the ground and in a controlled way, resisting all the force with the hamstrings.
- When you get down, give yourself a little push with your hands to return to the starting position.
- Do not modify the curvatures of your back at any time.
4. Lying hip extension with slight knee flexion
This hamstring exercise is easy to do. It can be done with just one leg to give it more intensity. Here we will work the hamstrings in the function of hip extensors.
- Lie on your back and place your heels on a raised surface.
- Keep your knees slightly bent for increased hamstring activation.
- Activate glutes and abdomen and raise the hips to maintain the position above for a few seconds.
- Return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
5. High pulley hip extension
This open kinetic chain hamstring exercise is very useful for working your hip extension. In addition, if you do it with a conical pulley as you see in the second video, in addition to strengthening the hamstrings you will also improve your hip mobility.
- Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and maintaining the natural lumbar curve.
- Raise your leg slowly as far as you can without affecting your lower back.
- From there, return to the starting position doing a hip extension.
6. Romanian deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is one of the best exercises to strengthen the hamstrings while gaining flexibility. Watch the video where I tell you how to make it perfect. You can do it with a barbell or weight training dumbbells
7. Romanian Single Leg Deadlift
Something more complex than the previous one since there is only one support. So the demand for exercise is much higher but it is also more effective. As I show you in the video, you can make different progressions until you do it with weight and without any support.
8. Kettlebell swings
A very effective exercise. Since while we gain strength we are stretching the hamstrings dynamically. So they have a lot of transfer towards the basic movements of running, jumping, walking, etc.
As I said at the beginning, if you spend a lot of time sitting in your day-to-day life, your hamstrings will probably be stiff. That’s why you need to do a good job of strengthening without neglecting the hamstring stretch for good mobility.
That should be the main goal of stretching your hamstrings. Don’t stretch for stretch. If you do not get an adequate length to be able to do a good hip flexion without the lumbar area being modified.
The best hamstring stretching exercises are:
1. Passive stretching
As the name suggests, this exercise consists of passively stretching the hamstrings. That is, helping us with an external material (floor, chair, rubber …) to achieve the greatest elongation.
It is important that you do not modify the lumbar area, otherwise the stretching will not be effective and you can hurt yourself in that area.
2. Active stretching
They consist of contracting the antagonist muscles of the muscles that we want to stretch. In this case, since we want to stretch the hamstrings, whose function is to flex the knee and extend the hip, we must do exercises in which we extend the knee and the hip flex.
3. Active and dynamic stretching
Do the stretches active but dynamically. This has more transfer to the basic movements of walking, running, jumping … You can use an elastic band to do them.
4. Eccentric contraction stretches
As I have said before, doing hamstring strengthening exercises in which the eccentric phase of the movement is worked with greater emphasis, will help you to lengthen these muscles and gain mobility.
Exercises to strengthen hamstrings with eccentric pulley are a very good option. And if you do not have this material, you can do others such as the deadlift, or the femoral curls lying on your back with TRX, Flowin, fitball …