Top 5 Exercises to Strengthen your Hamstrings
Your hamstrings are an important group of muscles in your body, playing a major role in activities like running, jumping, and squatting. Strengthening your hamstrings can help you improve your overall performance and reduce your risk of injury. Here are the top five exercises that can help you strengthen your hamstrings.
At Surrey Physio, we see a lot of people with weak hamstrings following a tear or injury. It takes time for the hamstring to heal, but we use a number of techniques including LASER and soft tissue therapy to help with the healing process.
There are a number of reasons why hamstring weakness is so common. Firstly, the hamstrings are a relatively small muscle group and are easily overlooked when it comes to strength training. Many athletes focus on larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps and glutes, neglecting the hamstrings. This can lead to an imbalance in the leg muscles, leading to an increased risk of injury.
In addition, many athletes do not perform enough hamstring exercises to ensure adequate strength and stability. Hamstring exercises such as Romanian deadlifts and Nordic curls require time and dedication to perform. As such, many athletes may overlook these exercises in favour of more traditional exercises such as squats and lunges.
Let’s look at the top five hamstring strengthening exercises:
1. Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a great exercise for strengthening your hamstrings as they work the entire posterior chain (the muscles at the back of your body). Use a bar or a dowel rod, and place them on some blocks. Bend your knees and squat down. Lift the bar by moving it up along the lines of your shins and thighs, and straighten up. Three sets of 10-12 repetitions works great.
2. Romanian Deadlifts: Romanian deadlifts are similar to regular deadlifts, but with a few modifications. Instead of beginning with the barbell on the floor, you will start with it at knee-height. With a wide stance, go into a squat position and grasp the bar between your legs, with one palm facing up and one facing down. Straighten your legs as you extend the back into an upright position. Squeeze the shoulder blades at the top of the movement. Return to the start position. This changes the focus of the exercise and helps to activate your hamstrings more effectively. Three sets of 10-12 repetitions works great.
3. Nordic Hamstring Curls: Kneel down and place a pillow or mat in front of you, and ideally under your knees. Ask a partner or friend to hold your ankles and place your arms straight out in front of you. When you and your partner are ready, gently lower your upper body downwards as controlled as possible, and get ready with your arms to stop yourself as you get closer to the floor. When your hands touch the floor, push yourself up to repeat. One set of 10 reps is ideal with your partner.
4. Single-Leg Bridge: The single-leg bridge is a great exercise for targeting your hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your arms by your side, and with your knees bent. Squeeze your bottom muscles and lift your back upwards and straighten one leg. Make sure you maintain good posture (do not over-arch your lower back) and contract the deep abdominal muscles by squeezing your tummy towards your spine. This exercise helps to strengthen the abdominal, lower back, gluteal and hamstring muscles. Three sets of 10 repetitions works great for the bridge.
5. Hamstring Curl with band: Tie an exercise band around your ankle, and attach the other end to a fixed object (e.g. under a weight, or around the leg of a table). Lie face down. Bend your knee creating a resistance in the band. This is a strengthening exercise for the hamstring muscle group (located at the back of the thigh). Some people may get some cramping in the hamstring, so avoid the exercise if you do get some cramp. Three sets of 10-14 repetitions works well here.
Strengthening your hamstrings is essential for any athlete or fitness enthusiast. These exercises can help you target your hamstrings more effectively and improve your overall performance. Make sure to perform them correctly and with proper form to get the most out of each exercise.
(These videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. If you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).