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Hamstring strengthening

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Hamstrings (back of the legs) are quite a vulnerable muscle group to strengthen. The reason being is that they are the opposing muscle to the large gravity controlling and postural stabilising Quad family (front legs). For anyone who read the Hamstring ‘Tight or Taut’ piece, you’ll be familiar how the dominating front thigh muscles (the Quads) can make the hamstrings stretched and tender after running. Must of us however mistake the hamstring feedback for feeling short and tight, attempting to stretch them with very little long term benefit. With this to mind it therefore makes sense to consider strengthening them to help counterbalance the strength of the quads. 

There are very few great exercises out there to help strengthen the hamstrings, I would always choose to promote an exercise which can help strengthen the core too.This is why I would choose to do a Reverse Hamstring Fitball Curl. A reverse Hamstring Fitball Curl is a great alternative to using resistance machines plus it’s something you can do in the luxury of your own home, in front of the television whilst you enjoy some downtime. 


Heres how to do it:

  • Lay on your back on the floor with the heels on the ball and arms across your chest. (If you struggle with balance at first, have your hands on the floor to stabilise) 
  • Lift your bottom up off the floor, your core will assist by contracting to stabilise.
  • Roll the ball in towards you by bending your knees and hips until your knees are directly above your hips.
  • When feeling in control, slowly straighten your legs out by pushing the ball away. 
  • Only straighten your legs to the moment you feel your body starting to struggle to stabilise. 
  • Slowly return the heels back to the starting position, bottom back on the floor.  

In time your core and hamstrings will strengthen and you will find you will be able to extend further with more control. Repeat this exercise 15 reps – 3 sets

You can progress this drill by performing this exercise without lowering your bottom back to the floor between reps, you can also perform the exercise with only one leg on the ball – pushing the other leg slightly away from the ball.

Please note..

Warning: Stretch quads first, strengthen hamstrings second.  

Strengthening hamstrings against tight overpowered quads can result in hamstring soreness and vulnerability to injury. This hamstring exercise therefore should always be after your quads have been given a good stretch out first. 

Use these to read further spotlights

Heel Striking
Forefoot running
Minimalist running
Walking lunges
Pelvic instability
Hamstring strengthening
Why stretch
Runners knee ITB
Single leg squats
Glutes, are you standing comfortably?
Squat test
Migrating to a minimalist shoe
Richard Whitehead Paralympic 200m
Medial Shin Splints
The cumulative effect
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