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Say Goodbye to Leg Curls: Effective Ways to Strengthen Your Hamstring Muscles

Did you know that Hamstring muscle strains are one of the most prevalent muscle injuries reported in sports?

I think those who have watched Olympic or similar level track and field sports have witnessed at least one sprinter who slows down and grabs the back of their thigh. There are different levels of hamstring strains or tears but it doesn't always happen like this. Most people comment that they know their hamstrings or the back of their legs are tight. What do you do to improve it?

Unfortunately, care for hamstring strains has not always been done correctly and still to this day continues to need improvement. I was a sprinter in college and started experiencing hamstring strains during my time in track and field. I was fortunate to have an athletic training room to go to for help. I was stretched aggressively in an attempt to increase my flexibility and then taught to do exercises like leg curls. The problem was that my symptoms got worse and then I started having back pain and sciatica. It wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I took a class that changed my pain and how I would evaluate and treat others with hamstring strains. This class was called the Selected Functional Movement Assessment or SFMA.

What research has listed as scientific evidence for hamstring injury prevention and rehabilitation includes Dynamic Warm-Up, Trunk Stabilization Neuromuscular Control Exercises, and Eccentric Exercises. None of the evidence points to doing leg curls. Leg curls are effective for increasing body mass with bodybuilders. Leg curls cause a tightening and shorten the hamstring muscles. When researchers test the hamstring muscles with electromyography (EMG), the muscles are most active in eccentric contraction. So what is eccentric and concentric and what exercises should someone do?

The concentric phase of an exercise is the shortening phase like a leg curl and the lengthening (under tension) is the eccentric phase. In the dynamic warm-up, leg cycling and leg pawing are good hamstring eccentric-focused movements. Some eccentric strengthening includes eccentrically loaded lunge drops, Nordic Hamstrings, and single-leg deadlifts. It's best to see a Physical Therapist to evaluate you individually and instruct correct movement and mechanics of these exercises.

This is why you should schedule with me at Garage Training & Rehab Gym. Please visit: htttps://

#Live Inspired

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, LMT, CMP, Owner Garage Training & Rehab Gym


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