The hamstrings (musculi ischiocrurales) represent the muscles of the thigh backside. These are 3 muscles that all run across two joints (hip and knee). Especially for the stability of the knee joint the hamstring is very important.
Hamstring – different muscle parts
The hamstring consists of 3 muscles, the musculus biceps femoris consisting of a long head (caput longum) and a short head (caput breve), the musculus semitendinosus, and the musculus semimembranosus. The short head of the biceps femoris is located below its long head and the semimembranosus sits below the semitendinosus.
All 3 muscles originate from the sitz bone (tuber ischiadicum), except the short head of the biceps femoris, what originates from the Linea aspera of the thighbone (femur). Both heads of the biceps femoris insert at the little head of the calf bone (caput fibulae). Together with the tendons of the musculus sartorius and the musculus gracilis the tendon of the musculus semitendinosus creates the pes anserinus, which inserts into the tuberositas tibiae of the shinbone (tibia). The musculus semimembranosus inserts at the medial portion of the upper tibia (medial condyle).
All 3 muscles flex (bend) the knee joint, extend the hip joint (not the short head of the biceps femoris), and erect the pelvis (not the short head of the biceps femoris). The semitendinosus and the semimembranosus also rotate the bent knee joint internally. The biceps femoris also rotates the bent knee joint externally.
Hamstring – Importance and training
From an aesthetic point of view the hamstrings do not play a very big role for most athletes. That is why many people neglect this muscle group in their workout. From an athletic and health-oriented perspective the ischiocrural muscles are very important. In all sprinting and jumping exercises the back thigh muscles belong to the main performers.
Solely if the hamstring and the front thigh muscles are well balanced the knee joint is operated optimally. In many cases athletes focus on the front part of the thigh and not its backside. The ischiocrural muscles protect the knee especially in the end phase of the extension what makes a workout of this muscle group essential. Just with the combination of leg curl and back leg lifts the hamstring can be trained optimally. Another appropriate exercise are glute bridges. The hamstring also tends to shortening. A regular stretch training (back thigh stretches) increases the mobility and can prevent complaints and injuries.
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