Last week when I was reading how to best prepare for my upcoming hilly marathon, a couple of articles mentioned the importance of strong hamstrings. Over the past month I have been doing more to build strength in my hamstrings but I wanted to learn a little more about their role in running. Here is what I learned…
The hamstrings are made up of three different muscles – the bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus.
The hamstrings are at the back of the thigh and cross the hip and knee joints. Since the hamstrings cross two joints, they have two actions, which include knee flexion and hip extension and hyper-extension.
Here is a nice visual of the three different muscles:
In running and other sports, the hamstrings are used for knee flexion, hip extension, power transfer, and forward propulsion. If the hamstrings are lacking adequate strength, you put yourself at risk for injury to any of the three muscles (bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus), to the knee ligaments (know anybody with knee pain?), and to the muscle fibers close to the hips. In addition, lack of hamstring strength and flexibility can also decrease power transfer and running speed. In other words, they are a pretty important group of muscles that need to be trained like all of our other muscles groups.
Here are some easy exercises you can do at home or at the gym:
And here are some stretches to do afterwards:
I think for my running club girls, I am going to make hamstrings exercises our exercise of the week. After all, they are running the same hilly race I am.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,