Exercises for Hamstring Syndrome

Femail runner with pulled hamstring

A particular problem for runners, jumpers and anyone else who puts their best foot forward with great force, hamstring syndrome — also known as proximal hamstring tendinopathy — affects one or both of the sciatic nerves, causing pain, tingling or numbness in one or both legs.

More than just a case of chronic tightness of the leg muscles, hamstring syndrome occurs when tissues bunch up and form hard, fibrous bands where both the hamstring muscles and the sciatic nerve insert into the "sit bones."

Symptoms, which include pain in the buttocks, can overlap with piriformis syndrome. Because the sciatic nerves extend from the upper pelvis through the buttocks, down the back of the legs and finally to the foot, symptoms may radiate throughout the lower body.

Hamstring syndrome may require surgery in rare instances. In most cases it can be prevented, improved or cured with exercise, particularly strengthening and mobilizing of the hamstrings, hips and legs.

While you're trying these exercises to alleviate the pain of hamstring syndrome, switch to cardio exercise that's less stressful for the hips, such as swimming or cycling.

Hamstring Stretches

The hamstrings are a complex of three long muscles that run from the pelvis to the lower leg, and when they get tight they take the lower back with them. Practicing dynamic stretches for tight hamstrings, such as forward folds and standing leg swings, are a good first step to recovery from hamstring syndrome. Be sure to stretch both legs evenly to avoid future injury.

Progressive strengthening of the hamstring muscles and glutes is essential for recovery from and prevention of hamstring syndrome, according to the journal Physician and Sportsmedicine.

Woman on back stretching hamstring muscles

Double Leg Bridge Exercise

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your knees bent upward. Keeping your core stable, squeeze your butt muscles and lift your pelvis until your torso is in alignment with your upper legs. Slowly lower your body to the start position and repeat for three sets of 10 reps each. Perform twice a day.

Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

HOW TO DO IT: Lying on your back, place your ankles and lower calves on the stability ball. Brace your abdominals and raise your hips upward, pushing the ball slightly away from you with your legs until your torso, pelvis and legs form a straight line from the ball to the floor. Lower your pelvis to start position, pulling the ball in slightly closer to your body with your legs. Repeat 10 times.

Prone Plank with Hip Extension

HOW TO DO IT: Begin by lying face-down with your forearms resting palms-down and your elbows positioned directly under your shoulders. Clasp your hands together, flex your feet and curl your toes underneath them. Now press up from the floor as if you're doing a push-up using your forearms for stability instead of your hands.

To perform the hip extension, first raise the left leg off of the ground, flexing it at the knee and extend the hip by projecting the heel upward. Hold for 3 seconds or for as long as you can, and and then return to parallel for the same length of time. Repeat five to 10 times.

Explore In Depth

Muscle activation during various hamstring exercises. June 01, 2014
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Core muscle activity during suspension exercises March 01, 2015
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Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes June 22, 2019
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Impact of exercise selection on hamstring muscle activation. July 01, 2017
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