Strengthen those hamstrings
Here at Jīròu Sports Therapy we deal with lots of injuries however we also work with clients in order to prevent injuries in the first place.
Hamstrings are highly susceptible to injury (and even more so in females) and so reducing this susceptibility as much as we can is really important in preventing injuries such as pulled hamstrings.
The hamstrings run down the back of your upper leg. Their function is to flex the knee and extend the leg at the hip, i.e. allows you to swing your leg out behind you. It works as an antagonistic pair to the quads at the front of the leg.
Even if you work out at the gym and can pump out some weight when it comes to leg curls, you may still be susceptible to hamstring injuries as it is not just the strength of the hamstrings but the ratio of their strength to that of your quads that is important.
How to test your H:Q ratio
Complete one repetition at maximum test for both the leg curl and leg extension exercises. Divide your leg curl score by your leg extension curl to find the ratio. If you are unsure about how to test and determine your ratio your PT / gym instructor will be able to help. Studies have shown that having an H:Q< 0.6 resulted in a greater number of non-contact leg injuries.
It is not only injures to the hamstrings that you will help to prevent by improving your strength ratio. Increasing hamstring strength helps stabilise the knee, therefore also helping to prevent ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries.
Improving the H:Q strength ratio can also bring benefits in running economy so whether you are new to running or an old hand, have a go at the following exercises.
Strengthening exercises for the hamstrings
The most effective hamstring exercises is the Norwegian leg curl. Where your training partner hold our ankles when you are in a kneeling position. Slowly lower your body forward as far as comfortable, hinging at the knees. Catch yourself with your hands and use your arms to push yourself back to the upright position.
The two and one legged eccentric bridge exercise is another effective strengthening exercise.
Don’t forget to stretch the hamstrings after exercising.
NB: These exercises should be performed with a healthy hamstring. If you have a hamstring injury these exercises aren’t for you. Have a chat with Jīròu about how you can rehabilitate your hamstrings.