How To Strengthen Your Hamstring To Avoid Injuries

As the age-old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true when it comes to your hamstrings.

This injury is common among athletes and can also affect older adults and sedentary people for weeks, even months. The hamstrings are the large muscles running along your thighs’ back. They’re responsible for bending your knees and extending your hips.

When these muscles are weak, you’re more likely to experience a hamstring injury. In fact, studies have shown that a significant number of hamstring injuries occur when the neuromuscular coordination patterns are disrupted.

Luckily, there are several exercises you can do to strengthen your hamstrings and prevent injuries.

Recurrence of Hamstring Injuries

One of the biggest problems with hamstring injuries is that a high percentage of people suffer from persistent symptoms and 22-34% of people reinjure their hamstring.

The hamstring plays a vital role in contact sports especially when kicking is involved as the anatomy of the hamstring puts it in a vulnerable position.

Benefits of Hamstring Strengthening

The best point of call for hamstring strengthening is through exercise, which has been shown to effectively reduce hamstring injuries by 65-70% when completed correctly.

Further, the benefits of hamstring strengthening stretch beyond injury prevention. For example, if you’re an athlete, stronger hamstrings can enhance your performance.

Hamstrings Can Be Strengthened to Avoid These Injuries

A strain, which commonly manifests as a muscle tear, most frequently occurs in the hamstring. The location is typically either at the middle of the back of the thigh (where the muscle tissue converges with its tendon) or at the bottom of the buttocks. Hamstring strains are classified as grade I, grade II, and grade III:

  1. Grade I: A mild injury in which a few muscle fibers are torn. There is pain and tenderness, but you can still walk without limping.
  2. Grade II: A moderate injury in which more muscle fibers are torn. There is significant pain and tenderness, and you may need to limp when walking.
  3. Grade III: A severe injury in which all or most muscle fibers are torn. There is intense pain and tenderness, and you will not be able to walk without limping.

8 Exercises That Can Help Strengthen Hamstrings

1. Single Leg RDL

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise one leg slightly off the floor. Keeping your back naturally arched and your leg straight, bend at the hips and lower your torso until parallel with the floor. Pause at the bottom before raising your torso back up.

2. Lunge

Standing upright, step forward with one foot until the legs are at a 90-degree angle making sure that the knee doesn’t move in front of the toes. Lower yourself down until your back knee is just off the floor before pushing yourself back up to a standing position with your front leg

3. The Nordic Hamstring

The Nordic hamstring is an eccentric exercise, meaning the muscles are lengthening while contracting. It’s a great way to build strength and resilience in the hamstrings.

To do the Nordic hamstring:
  1. Start by kneeling and digging your toes into the ground for stability.
  2. Have someone else anchor down your feet if necessary.
  3. Throughout the entire movement, keep your hips straight and maintain good posture.
  4. Slowly lower your body to the ground over five seconds.
  5. Once you’re down, use your hands to push yourself back up to the starting position.

4. Fit-ball Hamstring Curls

Lying on your back, put your calves and heels on a stability ball, move your hips upwards until your body is straight then slowly lift your hips and bend your knees, pulling your heels towards your buttocks and moving the ball towards your body. Extend your knees before pulling your heels back towards your body.

5. Glute Bridge on Box

Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees, and heels propped up on a bench or stool. Lift your hips until you form a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Hold for 3 seconds before returning to the start.

6. Long Lever Bridges

Perform a lying Leg Raise by lying on your back and placing one foot on a bench. Keep your knee slightly bent, then push up through your heel to lift your bottom off the ground. Return to the starting position with control.

Quantity: Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

7. Arabesques

Stand on one leg with a slight bend in your knee and your other leg raised behind you. Keeping your back straight, lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Quantity: Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps with lower weight and perfect form.

8. Gliders

Start by holding onto a support with one hand and splitting your legs slightly. Next, put all your weight onto the heel of one leg while keeping that knee bent. Finally, glide the other leg backward on a slippery surface (e.g., wear a sock on tiles or use a slide board).

3 Tips to Help Prevent Hamstring Injuries

1. Warm Up Before Exercise

Make sure to warm up before any type of exercise, including stretching. A good warm-up will increase your heart rate and body temperature, which makes your muscles more pliable.

2. Keep Your Nerves Under Control

Sit on a table or a chair with a folded towel beneath your knees. With your head, down and your legs splayed out in front of you, sit slumped. Lift your head while simultaneously pulling back your toes and straightening your knee. Hold for 1-2 seconds before bending your leg, pointing your toes, and letting your head fall forward.

3. Stretch Your Hamstrings Regularly

Stretching is an important part of any exercise routine, but it’s especially important if you’re trying to prevent hamstring injuries. Static stretches for the hamstrings should be done daily, and dynamic stretches should be done at least 2-3 times per week.

Have No Fear. You Can Strengthen Your Hamstring!

Just because you’ve had a hamstring injury in the past doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have another one. Following the tips in this article and working diligently on strengthening your hamstrings can decrease your risk of future injuries.

At our gym, we have several membership options that will allow you to exercise your whole body, but if you’re looking for something specific to help strengthen your hamstrings, we can create a routine tailored just for you.

Our trainers are experienced and passionate about helping people of all fitness levels reach their goals. Schedule a consultation today to find out which program is best for you!

Unlike other gyms that staff unqualified trainers, all of our employees are certified exercise physiologists from accredited universities. This means that we can create a workout plan tailored to your fitness level and help you achieve goals safely.


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