Everything You Need to Know About Your Hamstrings (Men's Health UK)

Posted: Nov 14, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Men's Health UK on November 14, 2023.


Everything You Need to Know About Your Hamstrings

By Edward Cooper

hen you think about it, you spend a lot of your life walking, runningstretching and, as you're reading a Men's Health article, lifting too. While doing all of this regularly is keeping you fit and healthy, it's putting a strain on your body — and your hamstrings are probably taking the brunt of it, leaving your legs feeling tight and stiff. Crucially, this means you need to spend some time working through some hamstring stretches and exercises to keep you mobile and feeling fresh.

Tension behind the legs? Trouble touching your toes? Uncomfortable sitting down on the floor? Then, reader, you've got a case of tight hamstrings and it can be causing you pain elsewhere. Your hamstrings connect to your pelvis and to your lumbar spine, meaning that other aches, pains and niggles — like that constant, dull lower back pain — can be sourced back to your hamstrings.

Published in March 2019, this study focused on treating back pain found in operating surgeons using a daily programme focusing on stretching the hamstring muscles. Using ten participants for a total of two weeks, the study found that the test subjects found a "significant improvement" on back pain when compared with treatment before the two-week programme.

A hamstring pain isn't terminal, mind — you can spend a little time reading through this article and a little more time putting effort into the hamstring stretches and exercises we've prescribed below, punctuated with expert advice and smart training strategies.

Why Are My Hamstrings Tight?

Before we get to the likely culprits behind your cumbersome hamstrings, you first need to know how they work. The hamstrings are a group of muscles that line the back of your thigh, including the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the long and short heads of the biceps femoris muscles, originating from your ischial tuberosity, known informally as your 'sit bones'.

Attaching to the bones of the lower leg behind your knee, the hamstrings cross between two joints — the knee and the hip, acting to bend the former and extend the latter. Thankfully, by working on your hamstring strength, you can improve your mobility, help reduce pressure and potential injury to other parts of your body including your lower back.


How to Strengthen Your Hamstrings

If your hamstrings are feeling tight, you have myriad options to get yourself on the mend. "It really depends on the person, their current fitness level and their goals," explains Tabona. Your case (funnily enough, just like everyone else's) will be unique to you and, as Tabona says, "there are so many ways to address this."

"I would say, as a general rule, it’s really important to incorporate a range of hamstring contractions into one's training program: isomeric, concentric and eccentric strengthening."

New research published in the American Council on Exercise saw a team of researchers in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Cross examining the most effective exercises to strengthen hamstrings in a short space of time.


...Read the full article here.

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