The muscle group on the back of the thigh is commonly referred to as the hamstring. Whether you play soccer, football, hockey, or run track (not to mention basically any sport that involves running) you're putting constant strain on the hamstring. This can lead to a muscle pull. Pulling a hamstring is a common sports injury and one which can end a season. This article focuses on ways of training the hamstring to make it less likely to pull, reducing the risk of an injury keeping you on the field longer.
The hamstring is made of up three different muscles:
- Biceps Femoris
When you 'pull' your hamstring it means that you've torn muscle fiber. To prevent hamstring tears from occurring proper conditioning and stretching before matches are required.
Stretching the hamstring can be done either standing up or sitting down. The most basic hamstring stretch consists keeping ones legs completely straight and reaching down and touching the toes. It is important not to bounce during stretches as this will achieve the opposite of our goal and actually damage the muscle. Keeping the legs straight as possible by keeping the knees locked insures maximum effectiveness of the stretch. This same stretch can be done sitting down and the same ideas apply. A variation of this basic stretch is to stand up and cross one leg over the other and attempt to reach ones toes. Again, it is important to keep your legs as straight as possible (perfectly straight is not an option for this stretch). Repeat this stretch crossing over the other leg. Another way to stretch out the hamstring is by lying on your back and trying to pull your hamstring to your chest (one leg at a time).
|Standing Hamstring Stretch||15-25 seconds|
|Standing Hamstring Stretch (with legs crossed)||15-25 seconds for each leg|
|Lying Hamstring Stretch||15-25 seconds for each leg|
The hamstring is used virtually all sports. It is the main muscle involved in running and so any sport with running thus relies upon the hamstring. That said, it is easy to see why proper hamstring conditioning is essential. As far as lifts go, a straight leg deadlift and leg curls will go a long way towards increasing hamstring strength. Incorporating these two exercises into your workout on leg days will strengthen the hamstring and help to balance the strength ratio between the quadriceps and hamstring.
Leg curl - this exercise involves using a leg curl machine and extended your legs against the weight.
Straight Leg Deadlift - keep your knees straight and lower the bar by bending your hips
In addition to strength training, endurance training should be pursued in a way appropriate for ones sport. For instance, a soccer or football player getting ready for the season might begin training his hamstring by going on runs which increase in distance over time.
The hamstring is a vital muscle group to virtually all sports. It is important to take care of it or else you might be faced with a season-ending injury. Two critical parts of overall hamstring health include stretching regularly and conditioning/strength training.