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5 best exercises to boost hamstring strength
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5 best exercises to boost hamstring strength

Whether you're an athlete seeking performance or someone looking to prevent injuries, developing strong hamstrings is pivotal
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K / Happiest Health

Most power through their daily workout routines or the sport they play till that one fateful day when the hamstrings rebel. It begins with a slight sting in the hamstrings and then it dawns: we have been ignoring this set of muscles mostly because they are not ‘mirror muscles’ and do not have prominence in conventional aesthetics. The hamstrings, though, play a pivotal role in our day-to-day activities, athletic performance, and even injury prevention. Strong hamstrings aren’t just about aesthetics; they’re fundamental to overall physical health and performance.  

The functions of the hamstrings

“The hamstrings, a group of three muscles, located in the back part of the leg,” says Dr Sushanth Mummigatti, consultant orthopaedician, Manipal Hospitals, Goa. “They originate from the hip region and get inserted below the knee. These muscles cross the hip and the knee from behind.”  

Hamstrings contribute significantly to lower-body stability, reducing the risk of knee injuries, especially in sports involving sudden changes of pace and direction or high-speed movements. 

They play a crucial role in our everyday lives.  

“When the hamstring muscle contracts, they bend the knee and extend the hip,” explains Dr Mummigatti. “When we are getting up from a sitting position, our hips have to extend to become straight. This function is assisted by the hamstring muscles along with the gluteal muscles. These muscles together help the person stand up from a sitting position.”  

It does not stop there. “Your hamstrings help you take your knee behind when you are walking, this means that the hamstring functions every time our hip or knee moves. It could bewalking, running,jumping, or getting up from a sitting position all of these actions are possible only if the hamstrings are functioning well,” says Dr Mummigatti.  

Best exercises to strengthen hamstrings

Here are five exercises to strengthen and mobilize your hamstrings:

  1. Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a powerhouse that engages various muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Whether you use a barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells, deadlifts effectively target and strengthen the hamstrings while promoting overall lower body strength.

     

  2. Romanian deadlifts (RDLs): RDLs tend to isolate the hamstrings, emphasizing their eccentric contraction. This exercise involves hinging at the hips while keeping the legs straight or slightly bent, effectively loading the hamstrings at their lengthened phase.

     

  3. Hamstring curls: Utilizing gym equipment like a leg curl machine, resistance bands or hamstring curls, isolate and directly engage the hamstrings and target the concentric part of the muscle, aiding in their strengthening and development.

     

  4. Lunges: Lunges, whether performed stationary or walking, engage multiple lower body muscles, including the hamstrings. They promote strength, stability and mobility while targeting the hamstrings through various planes of movement.
  5. Good morning exercise: Good morning exercise involves bending at the hips while keeping a straight back and slightly bent knees, targeting the hamstrings and lower back. This exercise helps strengthen the hamstrings while improving hip mobility.

Other great hamstring exercises are nordic curls, single-leg glute bridge and upright-hip-extension.

Takeaways

  •   The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that originate from the hip and insert into the knee. They help extend the hip and flex the knee back. 
  •   The hamstring muscles are essential for everyday activities such as walking, running, sitting down and standing up. 
  •   Deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, lunges and good morning exercise are great for strengthening and activating the group of muscles. 

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