How do we develop strong, powerful hamstring muscles?
In our every day lives we spend way too much time sitting. In a seated position the hamstring muscles become weaker. We spend well over half the day in this position and so numerous people regardless of how active they are suffering from weak hamstrings.
Our hamstring muscles are responsible for bending our knees. Seems simple right. Well unfortunately the hamstring muscles can be a whole lot more complicated than they seem. With a strong healthy hamstring you can run fast, jump high and accelerate and decelerate with ease. Not only this, but having strong hamstrings also helps improve your posture, prevent lower back pain and other lower body injuries. However
Many people don’t know this, but your hamstring muscle is made up of three separate muscles; the biceps femoris and the Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus muscles. All three hamstrings originate at the ischial tuberosity on the pelvis, also known as your sit bones. The Semimembranosus and Semitendinosus muscles then travel down the inside of the back of the thigh and insert on the Tibia. While the Biceps Femoris muscle runs down the outside of the back of the leg and inserts onto the fibula. As the hamstring muscles cross both the knee and the hip joints they are responsible for movement of two joints. They bend the knees as well as draw the hips backwards.
The hamstring muscles play an important role in most functional movements, such as walking, running, jumping and changing directions. During explosive movements the hamstrings are responsible for absorbing some of the force and shifting it from the knees to the hips. One of the hamstrings most important roles is to control deceleration during running or sprinting. Using an eccentric contraction while running downhill or slowing down from high speeds the hamstrings ability to control this motion takes some of the pressure off the lower limb joints and helps prevent injury.
The hamstrings also play an important role in posture and the alignment of the pelvis, hips and spine. If they are too tight or loose, they then tug or loosen their hold on the pelvis meaning the alignment of the hips and back will change. If altered to drastically it can lead to problems such as lower back pain and even knee pain.
Benefits of having strong hamstrings:
- Reduces chance of injury
- Improves athletic performance
- Reduces lower back pain
- Improves posture
- Helps protect the knee joint
- Lying on your back with arms at your side, with knees bent and weight on the heels
- Push your hips up towards the ceiling, keeping the core tight and ensuring the back doesn’t arch
- In the same starting position as a double leg pelvic bridge, extend one leg up off the floor
- Then lift the hips to the ceiling using only the one leg still on the floor
- Ensure the hips stay level and that the back does not arch
- In the same starting position as a single leg bridge, place the working leg on an unstable surface such as a foam roller, bosu ball or medicine ball
- Pushing into the working leg on the unstable surface push the hips towards the ceiling
- Make sure to control the movement and keep hips level
Eccentric Hamstring curls on SB or Sliders:
- Lying on your back with the feet on the Swiss ball or sliders and knees bent
- Lift the hips up to the ceiling and slowly straighten your legs out, keeping the hips off the floor
- Once the legs are almost straight quickly pull the heels back towards the bum, again keeping the hips off the floor
- This exercise can be done double leg and then later when stronger single leg
With all this been said it is still important to remember that even when strengthening your hamstrings, it is still important to stretch them out because if they become too tight and start pulling on your pelvis and tilting it, it will lead to other issues.
- Lying on your back with one leg through the door and the other up against the door
- Keep both legs straight and hold the stretch for 20-60 seconds
So in order to develop bullet proof hamstrings that allow you to sprint and jump to your full potential make sure to include hamstring exercises and stretches in your exercise programs. For more information and individualized exercises do not hesitate to contact us and book your assessment.