Hamstring muscles anatomy
The hamstrings play an important role in leg flexibility. This isometric bridge exercise is ideal for improving pelvic and knee flexibility, so it will help you become more flexible overall.If you want to learn more exercises to increase your flexibility, be sure to check out our article 14 flexibility exercises.
In addition to strengthening the hamstrings, hamstring flexion and stretching exercises increase the flexibility of the knees, giving your legs the strength to withstand high-impact exercises. You can do these hamstring exercises at the gym on a Smith machine or parallel bar.
The Nordic curl is a great exercise to increase knee flexibility and strengthen the hamstrings. You can do it at the gym or, if you prefer hamstring exercises at home, you can find a surface to hook your feet on. We explain how to do the Nordic curl here:
The problem arises when there is a shortening of the hamstrings, as a result of the tension suffered, causing pain and even complications in the race. Let’s see how and why this shortening occurs.
When hamstring shortening occurs, muscular imbalances begin, not only in flexion and extension movements, but also in body posture as they do not collaborate correctly in the position and stabilization of the hip.
All this, consequently, can trigger pain in the knees, hips, back of the thigh or hamstring area in general, and even in the lower back, in addition to being able to develop various types of injuries.
To do this, we lie face up on the floor (or on the mat), bringing the knees to the chest, and flexing the hips to form a 90º angle. Subsequently, we extend the knee until we reach 180º.
If we are not able to reach 180º of knee extension in this position, with the partial blocking of the hip when lying on the floor, this would mean that there is some hamstring shortening.
Hamstrings or femoral
We need sufficiently stiff hamstrings to gain energy efficiency so that each stride is powerful and/or expends little energy. On the other hand, we need them not to be excessively shortened because injury could occur. Flexible or stiff hamstrings? This is one of the big questions that is answered with “it depends”, and we will talk about it in this article.
Depending on the sport, you will need to be more towards the side of the 100 meter runner, or the dancer. Strength training, running and anything that involves muscle contractions will promote stiffness (muscular rigidity), while stretching, joint mobility and fascia release, which we will discuss below, will facilitate compliance (flexibility).
Stretching before training may worsen performance in that session due to a loss of muscle contraction capacity. We are therefore left with the other option of stretching after training, but if we want to change the length of the tissue and work that hamstring shortening, the musculature must be cold.
We recommend viewing this image which reflects the anatomical illustration of the location and extent of functional and structural muscle injuries (e.g., Hamstrings). (A) Muscle disorders related to overexertion, (B) Neuromuscular muscle disorders, (C) Partial and (sub) total muscle tears. (8)
Within the ischiosural musculature, the most affected area is the biceps femoris. This is due to its complex anatomy and innervation. As its two portions have different innervation, an alteration in the synchronization or asynchrony in muscle contraction is more frequent. This asynchrony causes a decrease in the capacity to absorb high tensions. (8)
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