Are Hamstrings Really That Important?... We think so!
If you've been neglecting your hamstrings, we're here to help.
Every body part is important in its own way. The hamstrings are no exception. You might know what the hamstrings are because they are notorious for being tight. While a classic hamstring stretch might be in your routine already, there’s a lot more to be known about your hamstrings. So let’s talk about how to make your hamstring strong, flexible and resilient.
What Are the Hamstrings?
Your hamstrings are located in the back of your upper leg, starting under the glutes, and are made up of three muscles; the bicep femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus. These muscles come in contact with the calf muscles when they insert into the lower leg below the knee. On the top of the leg, the hamstrings connect to the pelvis and the thigh bone (femur). So, the hamstrings are connected to the knees and hips! To sum it up, the hamstring muscles are important on their own, but more importantly, they are a key player of one of our most important muscular systems for movement, the posterior kinetic chain.
What Do They Do?
This is where things get interesting. The hamstrings are involved in a lot of our daily tasks and largely influence how flexible we are. Running, walking, and even jumping all rely on strong hamstrings. They work eccentrically “to slow the leg and prepare the leg for ground contact” during these daily activities. In a similar way to the glutes, hamstrings help stay standing upright and also push or propel us. Hamstrings also stabilize the back side of the body and keep the hips in a strong neutral position. This is done by counteracting the back muscles and hip flexors which act on the pelvis by tipping it forward. Ultimately properly trained hamstrings will save your back and hip flexors from feeling overly tight, active or aggravated.
Sports like volleyball and American football both require players to have strong hamstrings so they can avoid injury, and be able to change direction and adjust their speed while playing.
Flexing the knee and extending the hips could also not be done without the help of our trusty hamstring muscles. With the help of the quadriceps, which is their opposing muscle, they keep you moving gracefully and maintain both your mobility and stability. The hamstrings also protect the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) -- which is vital for strong knee stabilization -- by pulling the tibia backward.
Proven Hamstring Exercises
Bridges are a simple glute and hamstring strengthening exercise that can be done with or without weights. Lay on your back with your feet on the mat, then lift your glutes and hips upwards. Make sure to squeeze to lift, instead of squeezing after you’ve reached the top of the position. You could also do this exercise with a resistance band slightly above the knees. Our Better Band would work great for this!
Romanian Deadlifts & Good Mornings
Arguably the best hamstring moves out there, these also involves active hip extension. Start bending forward with your back straight and legs slightly bent for comfort. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings as you bring them forward to lift your upper body until you’re standing. We recommend first trying these exercises out with body weight then progressing to resistance bands or free weights.
While this exercise is often done at a gym with equipment, you can also do it at home with an exercise ball or even with resistance bands. Lay on your back with your heels on the ball in front of you. Roll the ball towards your body while bending your knees and lifting your hips. Make sure to give your hamstrings a good squeeze! This exercise also works on your balance.
Yes, even a classic squat can help you build your hamstrings up! Just make sure to activate your hamstrings and don’t be shy to add some weight to the exercise. Once again, our Better Band would be a fantastic addition to this movement.
When it comes to stretching the hamstrings, we recommend using dynamic and active stretches. Specifically, stretches that require you to engage your body and consider the position of your legs, hips and back while you stretch. Check out this simple active hamstring stretch using a resistance band.
The next time you’re in a movement flow, at the gym, or on the mat stretching, make sure to give your hamstrings some love. They will thank you for it!
Stay strong, flexible and COMMITTED!