How do you strengthen the Hamstring? In order to select effective exercises to prevent hamstring injuries and optimize sprinting performance, it is necessary to understand hamstring function. The nature of the injury & the phase of the stride cycle where the injury commonly occurs provide a major indication of hamstring function as well as insights into the mechanism of injury. Despite this clear evidence of hamstring function and the biarticular nature of the hamstrings there is a continued search for ways to isolate the hamstrings in order to strengthen them. With the understanding of the eccentric role the hamstrings play in the stride cycle, some people (the authors’ included) searched for ways to strengthen the hamstrings eccentrically. Unfortunately, most of those methods still relied on single joint movements, For example:
- Hamstring Curl (regardless of the position of the body)
- Ham/Glute Raise
- Various Supine Bridging Movements
- Kneeling Russian Hamstring Exercise
All of the above exercises certainly do work the hamstrings eccentrically, but the problem is that they all isolate the hamstrings by working at one joint, the knee. None of the exercises contribute to intermuscular coordination nor do they work the hamstrings at anywhere near the speed necessary to transfer to performance. Furthermore, the Kneeling Russian Hamstring Exercise in particular excessively loads the hamstring distally. All these exercises are contraindicated.