Hamstring strengthening exercises come in all shapes and forms because they are a multi-joint muscle that cross both the hip and knee joints.
Many people complain of tight hamstrings and stretch but the reason they’re tight is often misunderstood and thus, isn’t alleviated with conventional methods since these methods don’t get at the true root cause.
What Works the Hamstrings?
The hamstrings contribute to knee flexion and hip extension movements and are a part of the posterior chain, which refers to muscles that are on the posterior aspect (back) of your body.
So exercises like the leg curl (knee flexion) and deadlifts (hip extension) involve and strengthen the hamstrings.
However, one function they perform that’s not often talked about is contributing to knee stability – the hamstrings are essentially the muscular equivalent of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) because when they contract, the force resists the lower leg sliding forward relative to the femur.
When the hamstrings are weak or don’t fire at the right time, the forces created from quick changes of direction when running at full speed, for example, will have to be absorbed by the passive tissues, which can lead to knee injuries like ACL, MCL and meniscus sprains and tears. When all 3 are sprained/torn, it’s known as the “unhappy triad” and I’d say this is an understatement.
This is also the reason why the hamstrings are tight and why traditional static stretching doesn’t work (try these techniques to “stretch” your hamstrings instead).
When the neuromuscular system perceives muscular weakness – especially in muscles that contribute to joint stability – it tightens those muscles up because tightness increases stability.
While this increase in stability is at the expense of mobility, your brain will take this tradeoff any day because stability is more important to you, from a survival perspective.
If you’re a little tight you can still move, hide and fight, but if you injure your knee and can’t run because of instability, that bear is going to really enjoy you for dinner.
Conventional hamstring exercises typically work the dynamic functions of the hammies i.e. the leg curl works leg flexion.
But – hamstring strengthening exercises without weights especially – contribute more to the stabilizing functions since we’re not shooting for max strength or much weight we can lift but instead, focusing on ACTIVATION.
Today’s technique works the full posterior chain in a closed chain (foot on ground) fashion and integrates the medial arch muscles, calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Executing the exercise with the proper M/APs as I outline in the video is critical, so if you’re just going to watch 10 seconds of the vid and try it, you won’t get the full experience.
Instead, ensure you’ve got 10 minutes to go through the video in full with me and you’ll get the most out of your time invested.
Flat Foot Sneaking – Multi-Joint Hamstring Strengthening Exercise
Flat Foot Sneaking Tutorial
This technique would slot into Phase 3 of the Lower Limb Control course so if you’re a student who has completed the course, give it a shot to help you maintain the gains you’ve made.
Lower Limb Control is designed to ensure the feet, ankles and knees are all working properly and I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback, like this:
“I have purchased all of Eric’s programs. It started with reoccurring lumbar back issues. When the back programs worked better than cortisone shots and physical therapy I decided that an at home library of therapy was a wise investment.
Lower Limb Control came out at a time in my life when I knew I had to do something to regain leg strength and control for aging. In younger years I skated, rode bicycles, skied and was very active and strong. Twenty years of intensely pursuing career had left me at a tipping point.
First of all let me say that I didn’t follow the program exactly as prescribed. I took a lot more time with it. Instead of moving through phases I kept doing the old phases as well as the new phases. My body needed more time for activation. I’m still doing them twice a week the full set as a workout.
One of my other anti aging exercises is Tai Chi and Lower Limb Control has allowed me to be the best in my class and do some moves better than my teacher
I believe that this program is one of Eric’s best. The strength gains and ankle, knee mobility made me realize that time had robbed me of a lot but I could get it back without extreme workouts.
Thank you Eric” – Joyce Merritt, 69 years young
Joyce’s feedback is music to my ears because more than anything I love helping people get back to doing the things they love.
And she showed a lot of wisdom by listening to her body and adapting the program to fit her needs best.
While I design my programs to work for the majority of people, they’re not set in stone and can be modified and adapted as necessary.
Watch this presentation for full details on Lower Limb Control and a breakdown of four compensations that can occur when a little-known ankle/foot muscle isn’t working.