3 Exercises For Hamstring Mobility
The hip hinge is important.
Being able to hip hinge means that you can bend from the hips while keeping a neutral spine. This is especially important if you want to engage safely in exercises like a deadlift, which requires a good level of hamstring mobility and strength.
Keeping the back neutral means that the hamstrings are loaded at length and your lower back muscles are engaged. This helps you strengthen those muscles to be stronger over time, helping to futureproof you against back injury as well as strained hamstrings.
There are 4 bellies of muscle that make up the ‘hamstring’ group. Your biceps femoris (2 bellies) and your semi-tendinosus and semi-membranosus.
The biceps femoris can be seen in the diagram to attach to the lateral (outside) part of your shin bone, while the semitendinosus and semimembranosus attach to the inside the of shin bones. This provides some rotational function to the knee as well as the ability to flex at the knee joint (bend the knee towards the glutes).
Most of these bellies originate from the pelvis, which is why a neutral spine (which involves a slight anterior tilt of the pelvis) requires the hamstring to be at greater length versus a posteriorly tilted pelvis (tucking or ‘buttwink’).
Below are 3 exercises you can use to gain flexibility and strength in the hamstrings.
1. Soft Tissue Work
Option 1: Barbell
Set up a barbell in a squat rack slightly lower than hip height. Place your leg over it so that the pressure is just below the crease of your glute cheeks. The tissue here is your hamstring tendon into your pelvis. Get to a pressure that you are comfortable with and slowly straighten your leg to lengthen the hamstrings. Make sure you can still breathe! Slow and steady.
Option 2: Mobility Ball
Same as the barbell version except you will need a hard surface to get enough pressure from the ball and into your hamstrings.
2. Banded Stretch
Using a Mobility Band offers a distraction to the hip joint at the top of the femur (thigh bone) so that it can encourage proper joint movement in flexion. Pumping the knee and foot slowly lets you mobilise those tissues dynamically which tends to help with nerve mobility effectively as well.
3. Stiff Leg Deadlift
If you don’t use it, you lose it. Flexibility means nothing until you can use it in function, so a straight leg deadlift is a nice way to load those hamstrings in a controlled way that you can progress easily by adding more weight as you get stronger.