Looking After Your Hamstrings

A hamstring injury is feared by most athletes – it is one of those where straight away you know exactly what has happened! You feel that pop or snap and you know it is the dreaded hamstring injury.

Footballers in particular can relate to this and nothing else gives that same sinking feeling as when you are running for the ball and you just feel it go. Specifically your hamstrings act upon two joints – the extension of your hips and the flexing of your knees. So you can be running, jumping or even walking and you can guarantee your hamstrings will be playing a part.

Your posterior thigh is made up of three muscles that form your hamstrings – the bicep femoris, the semimembranosus and the semitendinosus, with the latter two both originating from the hip bone. The way these three muscles work with each other and how they are trained/developed will determine your overall flexibility and can also affect things such as your balance and posture.

Just training your legs won’t necessarily prevent injury though. The truth is you can be one of the finest athletes in the world but if you stretch that bit too far your hamstring will suffer. That being said, the more you train and the stronger your legs are, the less likely this injury will occur.

Injury prevention is just one aspect of training though. Strong thighs help you perform a whole number of gym activities to a greater level and even help with day-to-day activities too.

Here are some exercises that are good for strengthening and building up your hamstrings:

  • Squats
  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Leg curls (seated and lying)
  • Deadlifts/Romanian deadlifts

The chances are you probably use a lot of those exercises, if not all of them, on leg day as it is. So it is up to you how you incorporate them and to what intensity you do them. This will change for every individual – just remember to push yourself to that point where it doesn’t feel too easy but what you are trying to achieve is still attainable.

They might not have the trophy reputation of your abs or biceps but leg day is certainly one that is rarely neglected nowadays and strong legs are now just as admired as a strong core or upper body.

So whether you are flexing with your knee or extending with the hip, it is essential that you keep your hamstrings well trained. You won’t ever eliminate the risk of injury but it can be reduced. As I say, there is not another injury like it that leaves such a sinking feeling. So try not to leave it to chance and do what you can to get your hamstrings in the best possible shape.

Ollie Lawrence
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