Your hamstrings protect your knees from injury, enhance your speed and improve athletic performance. Treat them well, and they will work hard for you. Neglect them in favor of their stronger siblings, your quads, and they tend to get lazy. When speaking of the hamstrings, most people visualize the leg-curl machine. Whilst this piece of equipment works well for muscle isolation, sport-specific training requires you to teach your hamstrings to play well with others.
Your Hamstrings In Action
Your hamstring muscle group sits at the rear of your thigh. These muscles originate at the lowest section of your pelvis, and insert at the top of your tibia. Their responsibilities include bending your knee and extending your hip. The three muscles that form the hamstring group include the:
- biceps femoris
The static hamstring stretch was once the darling of athletic warmups, but it no longer holds that title. Go dynamic for best results. These stretches with movement increase your range of motion without the risk of dangerously overstretching the muscles, whilst serving as a dress rehearsal for your sport. Examples include standing butt kicks and knee lifts, lateral shuffles, skipping, leg swings and inchworms. The inchworm offers a useful blend of dynamic flexibility and deep core muscle engagement.
- Stand upright, hinge forward at your hips, and place your hands on the floor.
- Walk your hands forward until your body assumes a plank position.
- Do one push-up, then walk your feet up to your hands.
- Walk your hands forward again and repeat the sequence.
If you are not yet strong enough for straight-legged push-ups, your personal trainer can modify the exercise according to your fitness level.
Jump To It
Active hamstrings might mean the difference between sticking your jump landing or sticking your knees under the surgeon’s knife. If your hamstrings are behaving as they should, they will bend yiur knees as you land, thereby protecting your vulnerable ACL. Your hamstrings protect your knees during jumping activities, but only if you land with sufficient flexion in your legs. Unfortunately, your quads will often say “I’ll get this.” If your hamstrings allow this to happen, you will land with your knees locked. Your ACL might protest with a loud, popping sound.
Plyometric exercise progressions train your hamstrings to become active participants in the jumping game. Your personal trainer might begin the progression by having you perform 10 squats. Once your trainer is satisfied with your form and alignment, he or she might have you perform the squat, then jump into the air and land in the squat. Progressions include box jumps, hurdle jumps and depth jumps.
Although we tend to associate hamstring exercise with leg flexion, the straight-legged exercises address their function as gluteus maximus synergists during hip extension. Your personal trainer will teach a series of hamstring hip extension exercises, such as the straight-legged dead-lift and prone hip extensions.
Don’t let weak hamstrings ruin your game. Ask one of our personal trainers to help you design a hamstring training routine.
Call Happy Physio for expert Physiotherapy on (08) 9272 7359 today.