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What Is the Purpose & Function of the Hamstring?

author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
What Is the Purpose & Function of the Hamstring?
A runner jogging up a flight of stairs in the city. Photo Credit lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Your hamstrings include 3 large muscles that run along the back of your thighs, from your pelvis to the top of your lower legs. These muscles -- including the biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus -- play an important role in activities such as walking, running and jumping. The hamstrings function to bend your knees and move your hips backward.

Knee Function

What Is the Purpose & Function of the Hamstring?
Two young soccer players running and kicking a ball. Photo Credit Bigandt_Photography/iStock/Getty Images

The main function of your hamstrings is to bend your knees. This movement is performed during daily activities such as walking, running, climbing stairs and jumping. Your hamstrings also help rotate your lower leg. Two hamstrings attached to the inside of your knees rotate your lower legs inward. The third hamstring, attached to the outer border of your knees, rotates your lower legs outward. These movements fine-tune the position of your lower legs as you walk. Your hamstrings also function like brakes on a car to slow the speed at which you swing your leg forward while kicking or running.

Hip Function

What Is the Purpose & Function of the Hamstring?
A woman doing squats on a bench by the water. Photo Credit Click Images/iStock/Getty Images

Your hamstrings perform hip extension -- backward movement of your thighs. Although the gluteal muscles in your buttocks are the main muscles that perform hip extension, your hamstrings assist with this motion as you move from sitting to standing, squat and jump. Hip extension performed by your hamstrings also helps propel your body forward as you run.

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