The Advantages of Strong Hamstrings

The Advantages of Strong Hamstrings
The Advantages of Strong Hamstrings (Image: Solovyova/iStock/GettyImages)

Just about every athlete and weekend warrior relies on strong hamstrings. These muscles are responsible for bending your knees. If they’re strong, you can jump high, run fast and accelerate with explosive power. With well-developed hamstrings, you can maintain good posture and prevent leg injuries.

The hamstrings consist of three main muscles that extend from your sit-bones to your knees: the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus.

Key Functions

Because your hamstrings cross the knee and hip joints, they bend your knees and draw your hips backwards. Your hamstrings contribute to functional motion, such as walking, and they help you to achieve speed, power and agility in many sports. When executing explosive movement, these muscles play an important part in shifting the load from your knees to your hips. For example, a sprinter’s ability to launch off the blocks and accumulate speed depends on strong hamstrings.

They also contribute to your ability to absorb the shock of movements involving high velocity or force.

Deceleration

During the course of a contraction, your hamstrings shorten and lengthen. The concentric, or shortening, phase of a muscular action allows you to bend your knee, the eccentric phase, or lengthening, of the muscle helps you to control the deceleration of your body.

For example, when you’re running downhill, the lengthening of your hamstrings helps you to control the speed of the descent. This ability to properly decelerate lowers the amount of pressure on the joints in your lower body and prevents injury.

Posture and Alignment

Strong hamstrings work to stabilize your hips and keep your spine properly aligned. Envision your skeletal system as a connected chain; if one link moves out of alignment, problems ripple through the chain.

If your hamstrings are weak and tight, they’ll tug on your hips -- tipping them forward -- and compromise functional movement. A swayback posture, in which your lower back arches and shoulders round, may result.

Your hamstrings also keep your knee and surrounding connective tissue in alignment.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.