Anybody who’s dealt with a hamstring strain knows they’re a royal pain in the, well, hamstrings. And probably other places like your hip, knee, or even your lower back as you change the way you move to avoid the discomfort in your strained hamstring, which can put repetitive stress in other places. This injury can be a nuisance that seems to take forever to go away, and can ruin your running program, soccer season, or hiking. It can even make a walk in the park uncomfortable.
The good news is that you can build resilience, strength, and mobility in your hamstrings with a systematic, low risk training approach, which we’re going to cover in this series of videos and blogs. Each video will give you pro tips and adaptations for each exercise so you can start with the appropriate exercise and progress your way to feeling ready to take on what you love to do. You’ll enjoy the power in your stride, the strength to climb your way up a mountain, and the freedom to run and play without worrying about injuring your hamstrings.
These videos and blogs with give you a systematic approach to building resilient hamstrings with:
• Exercise progressions that will take your from “never trained my hamstrings before” to “I am thriving in the activities I love to do without my hamstrings limiting me.”
• Pro tips for each exercise so you feel confident that you’re doing it safely and getting the best results.
• Recommended sets, reps, or time for each exercise and activity so you get the best results without getting too sore.
Part 1: SEATED HAMSTRINGS MOBILITY
It’s a good idea to warm up your hamstrings before you train them to get them feeling mobile, relaxed, and ready to take on the stress of training. My favorite exercise to start with is the Seated Hamstrings Mobility exercise. It uses a neurological trick (called “reciprocal inhibition” in Exercise Geek Speak) that uses the strength of one group of muscles (in this case the quadriceps in front of your thighs) to lengthen and relax another group of muscles (our beloved hamstrings in the back of the thighs).
This exercise requires more attention than the old “bend over and touch yer toes” approach, but is much safer on your hamstrings and lower back, and it teaches you how to maintain a safe lower back position during the rest of the exercises you’ll learn in this series.
Check out this video for pro tips on the Seated Hamstrings Mobility:
The benefits of the Seated Hamstrings Mobility exercise include:
• Awareness of the relationship between your hamstrings and lower back, which gives you body learning you can apply to other movement contexts.
• Building strength in your intrinsic lower back muscles.
• A safe, gentle lengthening and relaxation of your hamstrings.
I recommend doing this exercise for at least two minutes, or until you feel like your hamstrings are ready to rock!
When you finish this exercise, take a minute to walk around, shake a leg, and do the ol’ “bend over and touch yer toes” maneuver. How do your hamstrings feel? Taking a moment to experience what effect (if any) an exercise has helps you learn the value (or not) of the exercise. It augments body learning rather than just taking my word for it. I recommend doing this with any exercise. Tune in and learn, and let your experience guide your training.
Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Enjoy the process of training your way to resilient hamstrings!