Flexible, strong hamstrings are happy hamstrings. Hamstring injuries are one of the most common and uncomfortable soft tissue injuries suffered by athletes. Regardless of the cause, hamstring problems are quite difficult to solve. So, we need to build their strength and it is possible with some bodyweight exercises including variations of curls and lunges as well as squats.
Exercises for hamstrings
The exercises mentioned below, recommended by Haas, cover the essential basics of hamstring injury prevention – mobility, strength, neuromuscular control and stability with the ultimate goal of making your hamstrings stronger, more balanced and resistant to mountainous terrain. Do these exercises three to five times a week on your own or as part of your regular workout routine.
Tools you’ll need:
- A massage roller.
- Pilates elastic band
- Kettlebells or dumbbells
Dynamic hamstring mobilization
Role of the exercise: Gently warms the hamstrings.
How to do it: Start in a squat position with hips apart. Place your hands on your knees or on your hips. Lift your pelvis, gently straightening your legs until you feel a slight stretching of your hamstrings. Pause for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Keep your back straight and don’t overstretch your thighs with a strong stretch.
The pose with knees and hands on the floor also provides good stretching in the upper hamstring and relieves tension there, a common site of hamstring injuries.
Volume: five to ten repetitions.
Lateral protrusions with a resistance band
Role of the exercise: Strengthens the thigh-back muscles.
How to do it: Put an elastic band around your ankles and put your feet together. Bend your knees slightly and place your hands on your hips so they don’t move. Then slowly step to the left, making sure that your toes are pointing forward and the step level to one side is about 30 centimeters, and then, with the same stride, put your foot back in place. Continue stepping in the same direction for 15 steps, then repeat in the opposite direction to the right. Pay special attention to proper technique and don’t let your knees bend inward, as this incorrect movement provokes knee injury.
Volume: three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Reverse glide with resistance band
Role of the exercise: Strengthens the glutes and hips to reduce stress on the hamstrings.
How to do it: with an elastic band around your ankles, place your feet together, knees slightly bent. Take diagonal steps backward, alternating sides. After each step, put your feet together: step back with your right foot, bring your left foot to it; step back with your left foot, bring your right foot to it. And so on. With each step, step on the heel, so that the foot is parallel to the floor, not standing on the toes. As in the previous exercise, make sure your toes are straight ahead and focus on knee position and proper technique.
Volume: three sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.
Role of the exercise: Strengthens hamstrings and makes them elastic through eccentric lowering. According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, this exercise cuts hamstring injuries in half when incorporated into an injury prevention program.
How to do it: Start kneeling on a mat, with your shins parallel and straight behind you and your knees hip-width apart and bent at a 90-degree angle. Ask your partner to pinch your ankles or block your feet under an immovable object. Tense your abs, keeping your arms at your sides, then extend your knees and lower your upper body as slowly as possible. Land in a push-up position to soften the impact, then use your hands to push back sharply to the starting position in one repetition. Don’t bend your hips – your upper body should stay in line from knee to head.
Volume: three sets of 10-15 reps (or as many as you can do; the key is proper technique).
One-leg pull (runner’s pull)
Role of the exercise: Eccentrically loads the hamstrings by training control of the rear leg and body articulation and balancing with a functional movement pattern.
How to do it: Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Without rounding your back, lean forward and down toward the floor, lifting your free leg behind you and onto the same horizontal plane as your torso. Continue raising your free leg (keep it as straight as possible) and lowering your torso until your feet are parallel to the floor or as far apart as you can without compromising proper technique. Then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to keep your hips straight (think about pointing the raised leg gently and smoothly toward the floor), and straighten your back and focus on controlling your leg.
Start with the weight of your own body, and once you can perform the exercise with proper technique, use weights, such as kettlebells or dumbbells, in the opposite hand of the grounded leg.
Volume: three sets of 10-15 reps on each leg.
Lunge with rotation of the trunk and touching the toes
Role of the exercise: Activates neuromuscular control and proper operation of the entire kinetic chain from the moment the foot touches the ground.
How to do it: Stand up straight, feet hip-width apart. Take an extended step forward (about two feet away), then lower your hips into the lunge phase until your front thigh is parallel to the ground (or as deep as is comfortable). The knee of the front foot should be behind the toes of the same front foot, subside. From there, slowly move forward to touch your front leg with your opposite hand, concentrating on correctly positioning your feet and aligning your posture-do not allow your knees to bend inward and avoid rounding your back as you reach. Return to the upright lunge position, then stand up, straightening your legs and placing them together to. Step forward again, but with the opposite leg and repeat the above.
Volume: three sets of 10-15 reps on each leg.
Tips for happy hamstrings
Myofascial release relieves muscle tension to improve mobility. Use a massage roller or foam roller to gently roll the hamstrings, giving tension, but not so much that it causes pain. Calm down from working on any overly difficult or sensitive areas. It should be beneficial, not painful. If you have hamstring problems, Haas recommends a massage stick rather than a foam roller because you can use it in a bent-knee position, which relieves the hamstring tension, whereas a foam roller requires a straighter leg. In an ideal world, you should roll out on a massage roller daily before a workout to relieve hamstring tension, Haas says, and again after a workout to relieve the same tension, but gained from exercise.
Do a dynamic hamstring warm-up before your workout. “There are 5,000 ways to warm up your hamstrings-it’s just a matter of using different types of movement similar to what you’re going to do,” Haas says. For example, if you’re going to climb rocks, use a box, bench or boulder to simulate steps and ledges to gently activate your hamstrings.
Dynamic hamstring mobilization – swing your leg back and forth while holding on to a stationary object. Not a bad way to warm up the hamstrings before hiking, running, biking, skiing or climbing. When moving your legs, be careful if you’re going to twist your back trying to touch your toes, as this will strain other muscles, taking the focus off your hamstrings.
Avoid unhealthy movements.
Avoid movements that put a lot of stress on the hamstrings. Steep climbs cause your legs to be pushed up and overextended while running, hiking, or walking-it’s fine when your hamstrings are strong and can handle the load, but if they’re weak or already overstretched, there’s a chance of a serious injury or causing a recurrence. If you activate your hamstrings and begin to experience pain in them, reduce the load or avoid that particular movement altogether. If hamstring injuries begin to haunt you frequently, see a qualified trainer or physician for a biomechanical analysis.
Exercise creates tension and inflammation in muscles and connective tissue. After your workout and before sitting on the couch, take a few minutes to roll out and stretch your hamstrings to relieve excess static tension. Active recovery days between workouts can also help you relax.