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VIDEO: Strengthening your hamstrings avoids 'loads of problems'

In this week's video, Newmarket athletic therapist Jen Mark highlights exercises that strenghten your hamstrings

Last week, we discussed ways to help tight or lightly injured hamstrings. This week, I’ll highlight ways you can strengthen your hamstrings. There are many ways you can isolate your hamstrings. Leg curl machines or with bands, for example. However, I prefer exercises that work a few groups at once because that’s how we move around. Not isolated. There are a few exceptions to that rule but let’s focus on exercises that are hamstring dominant but also allow synergy with the rest of the body. 

We can still do leg curls but without the machine. I love doing a leg curl with the stability ball. You’ll see in the video that there are two ways to do this. Your calves are on the stability ball, your back on the ground. Four parts: Lift your hips, pull your knees toward your chest, push your legs back straight again, then your hips can stay up or bring them back to the floor. As always, hold your body still while you bring your knees in. 

The second way to do this exercise is to lift your hips high while you pull your heels toward your bum. All the other steps are the same. Try both and choose what’s best for you.

Deadlifts, specifically Romanian deadlifts, are fantastic to get the hamstrings while the other leg muscles work as well. The most important part to remember is your back. It’s easy to hurt your back with deadlifts. 

You must have good core strength and engagement for deadlifts and no predisposing injuries. Please seek guidance if you want to start doing them. 

You can also use cables or exercise bands around your ankle and do a hip extension. You can start in a squat or standing, what a great way to work the core, glutes, and hamstrings. This can be done in a table top position as well. Start on your hands and knees, straighten one leg and lift it up and down. 

You can add some resistance as well. Place a band around your foot then under your hand, to root the band. Raise and lower your leg here too. Be creative and think about all the ways you can extend your hip or flex your knee.

The Nordic hamstring curl is a specific exercise for the hamstring tendons. Tendons work to decelerate your movement. When we get a tendon injury, we have to practise decelerating our movements, these are eccentric movements.

What does that even mean? In the video you will see Greg holding my ankles. As I lean forward, my hamstring tendons are the ones stopping me from falling flat on my nose. Then my hamstring muscles work to bring me back up again.

You really do need a partner for this exercise. You can try McGyvering your feet to something solid… but please be careful! 

The goal of these last two articles was to get more education on hamstrings. They can be very tight and cause loads of problems. Look to the hip, make it flexible. Make the pelvis strong. And finally, when working the hamstring, work your other leg muscles as well. Be synergistic and creative! Any questions, please let me know.