Hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh muscles. These muscles have a role to play in the working of two joints, namely the hip and the knee. They enhance a person’s walking, jumping, and jogging activities. However, any extra pressure exerted on these muscles may result in hamstring injury. It is often caused due to excessive stretch or tear in muscle fibers in the hamstring. It’s also been observed that some athletes suffer from hamstring injuries, as their quadriceps are over trained and they are no more in tune with the hamstring. It leads to powerful contraction in the quadriceps, which, in turn, causes injury to the hamstring muscles. Such an injury may rule athletes out of sports for anywhere between two to six weeks, depending on the type of injury. Therefore, hamstring exercises are necessary. One does not have to necessarily visit a gym to do these exercises and can perform them at home as well.
To protect yourself from injuries, it is important that you do some stretches prior to the workout. When you are doing these exercises, do them without weights for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Remember that holding the pose will strengthen hamstrings better.
Downward Facing Dog
This is one of the simplest, yet one of the most effective hamstring exercises. To do this exercise come down on all fours such that you form a table position. Lift your hips up such that you form an inverted ‘V’. In this position your chest will come towards your thighs and hands will be stretched out. You won’t be able to touch your heels to the ground. In case you are able to touch them to the ground, then keep your feet where they are and walk your hands a little ahead. This will stretch the hamstring muscles better.
When you are starting off with your workouts, it is a good idea to start off with this stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front. Extend your hands up in the air and bend down from your waist. Try to reach your toes or hold your shin and stay in the position for sometime, before you release. Repeat the exercise a couple of times for better strengthening.
Make sure you include this exercise in your workout. It will work not just the hamstrings, but also the gluteal muscles and the lower back muscles. Lay on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and place your feet closer to your buttocks. Place your hands such that they are closer to your feet. Lift your hips up in the air, squeeze your hamstring and gluteal muscles, but keep your shoulders on the floor. Slowly release and come down to repeat the exercise.
Donkey Leg Lifts
If you are looking for exercises that can be performed without weights, then this is an exercise you must do. To begin the exercise, come on all fours. Place your hands a little away from the body for better balance. Lift your right leg and extend it straight behind you. However, ensure you do not skew your hips. Squeeze your hamstring and buttocks. Slowly, bend your knee and try to bring the leg closer to your chest and extend it back again. Ensure to keep even the left knee off the floor while performing the exercise on the right leg. Repeat the exercise 8 to 10 times on the right leg before switching over to the left.
If you suffer from hamstring tendonitis, then consult your health care professional before performing the exercises mentioned above. At the same time, if you suffer from any other hamstring injury, do these exercises under professional guidance because if they are not done correctly, they may cause injury.