Doing exercises to strengthen the hamstrings is essential if you want to prevent any injury such as the rupture of any of these muscles and to recover knee injuries such as the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament.
The ischiotibial muscles belong to the set of muscles of the thigh and are located in the posterior area of the thigh. The ischiotibial muscles are made up of three muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoral. They originate in the pelvis (ischium bone) and are inserted into the tibia and fibula.
Their main function is to extend the hip and flex the knee. So these muscles are very important when doing daily activities or sports such as running, jumping, dancing or simply helping us maintain good posture. When the knee is bent, the hamstrings are also involved in the internal and external rotation of the knee.
Exercises for hamstrings
Whether you do sport or not, doing exercises for femorals or hamstrings is fundamental:
- If you lead a sedentary life and spend a lot of time sitting in your daily life, your hamstrings become stiff and shorten. This causes muscle imbalances and can cause pain in the lower back, knee, etc..
- If you do any sport in which you have to run, jump, etc., doing exercises to strengthen your hamstrings is key to preventing muscle injuries. In addition, it has been proven that if the strength of the hamstrings is 10-15% lower than that of the quadriceps, there is a greater risk of suffering knee injuries such as the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament.
Exercises to strengthen the hamstrings
As I told you before, strengthening the hamstrings is essential to improve posture and prevent or recover from injury.
We have said that the main functions of hamstrings are to extend the hip and flex the knee. Therefore, the best exercises will be those in which these movements are performed.
- Femoral curl in machine, with rubber, pulley, eccentric pulley
The femoral curl can be made with different materials. It is a very simple exercise with an open kinetic chain. So for people who are initiated or people with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and who have hyperextension of the knee is a good exercise to start strengthening the hamstrings.
- Femoral curl in TRX, fitball, Flowin…
Making a femoral curl with these materials will get to work the eccentric phase of movement and in addition to gaining strength also improve the flexibility of the hamstrings.
- Nordic Curl
This exercise is not suitable for everyone as it is very demanding and you have to control the middle zone very well so that it is not modified.
- Lying down hip extension with slight knee flexion
This exercise is easy to do. It can be done with just one leg for more intensity. Here we will work the hamstrings in the function of hip extenders.
- High pulley hip extension
This open kinetic chain hamstring exercise is very useful for working hip extension. Also, if you do it with a conical pulley as you see in the second video, besides strengthening the hamstrings you will also improve your hip mobility.
- Romanian deadweight
One of the best exercises to strengthen the hamstrings while gaining flexibility. Watch the video where I tell you how to make it perfect.
- Romanian deadweight to one leg
Something more complex than the previous one since there is only one support. So the demand for exercise is much higher but is also more effective. As I show you in the video, you can make different progressions until you get to do it with weight and without any support.
- Swings with kettlebell
A very effective exercise because at the same time that we gain strength we are stretching the hamstrings dynamically. So they have a lot of transference towards the basic movements of running, jumping, walking, etc.
As I told you at the beginning, if you spend a lot of time sitting in your daily life, you probably have rigid hamstrings. That’s why it’s necessary to do a good strengthening work without leaving aside the hamstring stretching to have good mobility.
This should be the main objective of stretching the hamstrings. Do not stretch for the sake of stretching. If not get an adequate length to be able to do a good hip flexion without the lumbar area is modified.
The best ischiotibial stretching exercises are:
- Passive stretching
As the name suggests, it consists of stretching the hamstrings passively, that is, helping us with an external material (floor, chair, rubber…) to achieve the greatest elongation.
- Active stretching
They consist of contracting the antagonist muscles of the muscles we want to stretch. In this case, since we want to stretch the hamstrings, whose function is to bend the knee and extend the hip, we must do exercises in which we extend the knee and the hip flexes.
- Active and dynamic stretching
Do active stretching but dynamically. This has more transference to the basic movements of walking, running, jumping…
- Stretchings in eccentric contraction
As I said before, doing hamstring strengthening exercises in which the eccentric phase of the movement is worked on with greater emphasis will help you stretch these muscles and gain mobility.