The hamstrings are a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh. They originate on the back of the hip bone, run down the back of the leg, and attach below the knee on the tibia and fibula.
The hamstrings have two major functions:
1. Hip extension. These movements can include the upward phase of the squat, lunge, dead-lift and RDL.
2. Knee flexion. Examples of this include a leg curl and the Russian curl (this one is a dandy!)
But it doesn’t stop there. The hamstrings have a significant task of slowing the leg down when landing from jumps and hops. Additionally, the hamstrings are vital in sprinting. When the lead leg swings through, it must quickly decelerate and switch directions. This particular action is when most hamstring injuries occur.
But a lesser known role of the hamstrings is that of ACL injury-prevention. The ACL works to prevent the lower leg from separating from the knee (a funny term called anterior tibial translation). Remember how the hamstrings attach to the lower leg? When the hamstrings are activated, they pull the lower leg into the knee.
In other words, the hamstrings work in a similar function as the ACL!
Now strong hamstrings are certainly not the end-all and be-all solution to preventing ACL injuries, but their importance cannot be neglected. Hamstring training is important for athletes as well as general fitness populations. For females, it is even more important as they typically have weaker hamstrings when compared to males due to congenital joint laxity and wider hips.
We believe in hamstring training that progresses from a core group of movements such as the squat, lunge, dead-lift and RDL, into more sports-specific, faster movements that include jumps, hops, change of direction drills and deceleration exercises. This way we can develop a base level of hamstring strength and progress into faster, more sports-specific foundation movements that more closely approximate actual game scenarios.