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Stop doing Leg Curls on the Machine for Hamstrings

I’ve been through my fair share of hamstring problems (as well as back problems). I remember the first time I strained my hamstring was in an U14 soccer match. It felt like I got shot in the leg. I’ve had a fair few strains since but it wasn’t until after I had lower back problems in my early 20s did I realize that the two could be connected (not all hamstring injuries are the same). Of course, knowing I had weak hamstrings, I would “isolate” them using leg curls. I also did leg extensions which are an even bigger sin but at least I did the odd leg day.

2 problems with hamstring curls on a machine:

1: They don’t train the long head of the hamstrings, connected higher up our hips. Tightness here can cause a pelvic tilt and lead to lower back pain. 

2. Studies have shown that feeling pain in our hamstrings may actually be a lumbar issue and there might not be any physical damage to the hamstrings. In that case, sitting down and working them is not going to do a thing for that problem. 

As well as the leg curls with the ball I posted a few weeks ago (promotes engaging the hips and has foot contact), the Romanian deadlift is a fantastic exercise to work the hamstrings, eccentrically too as well as the lower back/lumbar region. Unless you get an MRI, you’re not going to know the exact cause of the hamstring problem. However, you will be guaranteeing more bang for your buck by replacing the leg curl exercise with an exercise such as an RDL. If you are constantly experiencing pain, you should see a Physio first and foremost. 


To perform an RDL correctly: Make sure your back is straight, shoulder blades pulled back as you slide the bar down your legs, pushing your hips back rather than bending your knees. Throughout the movement, you should be bracing your core and there should always be a straight line from your hips to your head (a neutral spine). On bringing the weight up, you are not actively pulling with your arms but snapping the hips forward (do not over extend!) #LetsGoGetEmAgain