Your hamstrings, a trio of muscles along the back of the thighs, help you bend and straighten your knees and extend your legs from the hips. Weak hammies make it tougher to run and kick, and contribute to lower-back and knee pain. To stretch and strengthen these under-appreciated movers, try these five fave moves.
1. Hamstring March
Body Part: Core, Butt
Equipment: Bosu Ball (optional)Repetitions: 10-12
a) Lie faceup with head and shoulders on a Bosu (or on the ground), arms extended at sides, and knees bent. Raise hips so body is aligned from shoulders to knees. Lift right leg so knee is directly over hip.
b) Extend leg in front of you so thighs are parellel.
c) Return to the starting position and repeat with left leg to complete 1 rep.
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2. Hamstring Curl with Towel
Body Part: Butt, Legs
a) Lie faceup on a smooth floor and place feet on a towel, knees bent 90 degrees. Rest arms on the floor out to the sides. Lift hips and toes.
b) Keeping hips off the floor the entire time and abs tight, straighten legs as far as you can, then bring them back in to the starting position; repeat.
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3. Dead Lift
Body Part: Butt, Hamstrings
Equipment: 8- 15-pound dumbbells
a) Stand holding dumbbells, arms hanging in front of thighs, palms facing in, feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Squeeze shoulder blades down and together and contract abs, bringing spine to a neutral position.
b) Keeping knees slightly bent, with back and arms straight, flex forward at hips until you feel a slight tension in your hamstrings. Contract your butt and hamstrings, straighten to an erect position and repeat.
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RELATED: Stretch complimentary muscles, such as your hip flexors, to prevent injury and hamstring strain. Get started with this pain-relieving hip-flexor stetch.