By: @chrisbardawil founder of @coreflexpilates
There is a lot of emphasis on what exercises and muscles we can work to prevent injury, however, one of the muscle groups that is more difficult to activate are your hamstrings. These are the large muscles that run down the back of your legs. Because the hamstrings are in charge of hip and knee extension, a lack of hamstring strength can result in knee and hip injuries as well as postural imbalances.
Most people train with a heavy emphasis on exercises such as squats and lunges, which are great for all of the other muscles in your legs but ignore the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings are often a sign of weak hamstrings; this is the body's way of protecting itself from injury by limiting movement. So if you struggle to straighten your legs or touch your toes while stretching, the cause may actually be hamstring weakness.
How do you work your hamstrings? The two easiest exercises are hamstring curls and romanian deadlifts. Both require some basic equipment.
Exercises Ball Hamstring Curls
Lay yourself down flat with your heels and lower legs on an exercise ball, then lift your hips creating an inverted plank and draw the ball toward you with your heels, then straighten the legs again. You should feel the back of your legs working to pull the ball through.
These are similar to a normal deadlift but done without bending the legs as much. They can even be done without weight, or with a single leg to make them more difficult.
Stand up straight and hold your weights in hands, Maintain a neutral spine, with the core braced and back extended, and bend the knees slightly (10-20°). From here, push the hips backwards as far as possible as the torso hinges forwards.
Try these two exercises for 10 to 15 reps and 2 sets each worked in with your normal leg routine. There are many hamstring exercises that can be done but these two stand out as they require little or no equipment and are a great choice for improving strength and mobility.