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Do Not Get Hamstrung by Your Hamstrings

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.


The word hamstrung refers to the disability that occur when the hamstring, a muscle connecting the thigh to the knee, becomes injured. Severe hamstring injuries leave people limping if they can walk at all.

With careful planning and self-awareness during your exercise routine, you can avoid getting hamstrung by hamstring injuries.

The hamstrings are muscles on the back of the thighs, primarily used when walking and pulling the leg back.
The hamstrings are muscles on the back of the thighs, primarily used when walking and pulling the leg back. | Source

Hamstring Injuries and Symptoms

You can tell if you’ve pulled your hamstring if it you feel a sudden and sharp pain on the back of your leg, most often when running or kicking. If the hamstring is pulled, it will also hurt when you lean over and touch your toes. It may be bruised if it is severely injured.

You can reduce the risk of pulling the hamstring if you stretch it adequately before working out. You should perform back stretches, as well, since weak back muscles can contribute to a hamstring injury. If you start feeling spasms in your hamstring, stop and rest. After the spasms stop, stretch it slowly. Go slow and get home instead of resuming a run.

After a Hamstring Injury

What should you do if you’ve injured your hamstring recently? Spend even more time stretching. Rest for a longer period of time between hamstring workouts and do fewer hamstring exercises than you did before.

You’ll need to work up slowly to your prior level of endurance. If you were working out with weights on your ankles or holding weights while you did curls, your first workouts post-injury should be done without any weights. If you required surgery to repair your hamstring, consult with your doctor before you start exercising again. Also ask your yoga instructor if a position will stretch your hamstring before you try to imitate a position. If you are doing yoga and your hamstring begins to hurt, return to a neutral posture.

Hamstring Exercises

There are several exercises that work out your hamstring. The most common ones are squats, the hamstring bridge, dead lifts, the ham raise, lunges and the seated leg curl. Avoid doing all of these exercises in repetitive sets back to back. Spread out these exercises throughout your exercise routine, and do not perform many sets of all of them in the same day. If you are going for a long walk or jog, you can skip exercises that focus on your hamstrings that day.

Preventing Hamstring Injuries

You should be careful about exercising your hamstring in conjunction with running. Running strains all of the muscles in your legs. If you’ve been jogging, you can probably skip hamstring exercises but need to be especially diligent on performing hamstring stretches before and after running. If you’ve had a hamstring injury, you should walk instead of running after you’ve healed, then start running shorter distances.

If you are a sprinter, you must take care to rest often enough between sprints, both between running sessions on the same day and days spent sprinting. Your exercises between sprints should take the form of lifting weights, swimming and other activities that do not use your leg muscles in the same way running does. If you’ve gone running long distance running such as participating in a marathon, do not go running for the next few days afterward. Rest your legs entirely or exercise in another way such as swimming or lifting weights.


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