Running is an incredibly repetitive activity. While this certainly has its benefits, it can also lead to muscle imbalances and overuse if we are not careful.
Some of the most frequently ignored muscles among runners are the hamstrings.
Hamstrings provide power and strength on the run, but without careful attention, they can easily become weak or inactive. Many runners have inactive hamstrings, but fail to realize it until it is too late.
Weak hamstring muscles can have a drastic impact on your running. Without the additional power of your hamstrings, your quads get overused, which can lead to various forms of knee or IT band pain.
While you might be able to continue running at your regular pace with inactive hamstrings, the muscle weakness will eventually lead to overuse injuries that could keep you off your feet for weeks – even months.
In addition, various hamstring injuries, such as pulls or strains, can occur from weakened muscles. The overall imbalance might lead to a nagging pain that just doesn’t seem to go away.
This simple 10 Minute Hamstring Workout is a great way for runners to ensure their hamstrings are strong and active on the run. Completing these easy hamstring exercises will help activate the muscles before a run, keeping them engaged as you power through long runs and hard workouts.
Hamstring exercises are an essential addition to any strength training plan. With a little regular attention, you’ll promote balance and optimal strength for every run.
Try adding these 7 hamstring exercises to your weekly strength training routine to ensure your leg muscles are balanced, strong and ready for your best training season yet.
10 Minute Hamstring Workout
- Leg Lifts (on Stomach) x 20 each
- Single Leg Bridge x 10 each
- Single Leg Bridge Hold x 20 seconds
- Stability Ball Leg Extensions x 20
- Clamshells x 20 each
- Single Leg Squat and Toe Touch x 10 each
- Single Leg Dips x 20 each
7 Hamstring Exercises for Runners
Leg Lifts (on Stomach)
Begin by lying face down on your stomach, with arms next to your sides. Keeping your legs straight, lift one leg into the air as high as possible without causing discomfort. Lower back to the floor and repeat, alternating sides.
To increase the benefits of this exercise, try adding ankle weights for extra resistance.
Single Leg Bridge Dips
Lie on your back, bending your knees to plant the soles of your feet on the floor beneath your hips. Keeping your arms down at your sides, lift your hips from the floor as you rise into bridge position. Distribute your weight evenly between the soles of your feet and shoulders.
Next, lift one foot into the air, raising it until your leg is completely straight. While keeping your foot elevated, lower your hips back down to the floor and then lift back up. Continue to repeat and then switch sides.
Single Leg Bridge Hold
Return to your single leg bridge position, with soles of the feet planted firmly on the floor and knees bent. Check to ensure that your body forms a flat board between your knees and shoulders, careful not to let your hips sag. Lift one foot in the air, straightening the leg, and hold.
Stability Ball Leg Extensions
This hamstring exercise requires a stability ball or balance ball. Lying on your back, lift both feet and place them on top of the ball. Bend your knees and roll the ball in towards your hips, lifting your hips into the air as the ball gets closer.
From this position, keep both feet on the ball and roll it away from you as you straighten your legs. Take a moment to regain balance, and then bend your knees to roll the ball back in towards your hips. Continue to straighten and bend your legs.
Begin by lying on your side with your feet stacked. Keeping your legs stacked, bend your knees and bring them out in front of your body. From this position, lift the top knee into the air as high as feels comfortable, while keeping your feet together. Lower your knee back down on top of the other and then repeat.
To increase the benefits of this hamstring exercise, try looping a resistance band just above your knees.
Single Leg Squat and Toe Touch
Stand with your feet spread about hip width distance apart. Lift one foot a few inches above the floor and straighten your leg to bring it out in front of your body. While keeping one foot elevated, squat down on your grounded leg.
Bend forward while doing so to reach towards your grounded ankle as you squat. Straighten back up to standing and repeat, alternating sides.
Single Leg Dips
This hamstring exercise requires a stable, elevated surface, such as a stair, box or step. Stand on the very edge of the step, balancing on a single foot as your outer foot hovers in the air. From this position, slowly bend your knee to lower into a single leg squat, dipping your airborne foot closer to the floor. Straighten back up to standing and repeat.
These hamstring exercises make a simple and easy addition to any strength training workout. Complete them all in just 10 minutes for a powerful hamstring workout, or spread them out to complete a few each day.
Staying strong and healthy on the run may involve a little extra time and attention, but the few minutes you spend strengthening your hamstrings each week will certainly pay off in the long run (literally). Set yourself up for a successful, injury free training season with regular hamstring exercises.