Last week we looked at the most common injury in the AFL, the hamstring strain! This week it’s all about prevention and maintenance. Here are 4 exercises to try at home to help strengthen and condition your hamstrings, and endure the rigours of your chosen sport! All of these exercises are bodyweight only – no weight required!
Exercise 1– Hamstring curl on a gym ball (BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE)
Image credit: Men’s Fitness
- Place both feet on top of your gym ball
- Leave both arms on the floor for balance
- Lift your hips up so they are parallel with your torso
- Pull the ball inwards, bending both knees using your feet
- Return to the starting position by straightening your knees
This exercise can be made to work your hamstrings more by performing it on one leg only!
Image credit: HEP2go
3 sets of 15 reps
Exercise 2- Bridging on Foam Rollers (BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE)
Image credit: HyperActivz
- Lie on your back
- Place both feet on your foam roller
- Rest your arms by your side
- Lift your hips up
- Squeeze your glutes as your hips raise up
- Slowly lower your hips back to the floor
To make this exercise more challenging, try the single leg version. Also avoid fully resting between reps by not lowering all the way back to the floor. This keeps the tension in your hamstrings for the whole set.
3 sets of 20
Exercise 3 – Single Leg Deadlift (INTERMEDIATE)
- Maintain a neutral spine
- Keep the working leg slightly bent
- Bend from your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor
- Let your free leg stretch out behind you for balance
- Reach with both hands towards the floor
Try using a balance disc or Bosu ball to increase the difficulty of this exercise.
3 sets of 10 reps
Exercise 4- Nordic Hamstring Curls (ADVANCED)
Image credit: Strength & Conditioning Research
Studies have shown this hamstring exercise, when performed over a 13 week period, to reduce hamstring injury frequency by 30%. It works by strengthening the hamstring muscle in a lengthened position. This increases the hamstrings tensile loading ability and may reduce the risk of injury, especially with sprinting.
- Have a partner hold your ankles
- Pull in your core
- Slowly lower yourself to the ground
- As you lower, your body should be kept straight; avoid bending your back
- Once you reach the ground, use your hands to press yourself up to the starting position
- Do not expect to be able to lower yourself completely to the ground
- Have your hands out in preparation to brace yourself
5 sets of 5 reps
If you are unsure about what level you should start at or the timing of your exercises in your training routine, we advise consulting first with your physiotherapist for a tailored and comprehensive plan.
At Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates, we have undertaken further study in sports and hamstring injury management to ensure you receive the best evidence-based care available for your injury.
The information in this blog is general in nature. If you are experiencing any pain or just unsure whether these hamstring exercises are suitable for yourself, we advise ceasing, or not commencing them, as you may be at risk of further injury.