First of all, we have to know what are hamstrings? How do they work? And how to stop hamstrings hurting when cycling.
What are your hamstrings?
In human anatomy, a hamstring is any one of the three posterior thigh muscles in between the hip and the knee (from medial to lateral: semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris).
The muscles begin just below the buttocks, where they attach to the ischium (the lower part of the hip) and connect onto the top of the lower leg bones (the tibia and the fibula). Your posterior thigh muscles bend your knee and straighten your hip.
How do hamstrings work when cycling ?
The hamstrings work hardest when you pull your leg up from the bottom of the pedal stroke. But as the pedaling action does not involve a full hip extension, cyclists can develop tight posterior thigh muscles over time.
Why hamstrings hurt when cycling?
A hamstring ‘strain’ occurs when the muscle is loaded either quite heavily, or repetitively, or both. In the cycling sense, this might mean pushing too heavy a gear or too low a cadence, or simply increasing the amount of cycling (by way of repetition) too much, too soon for your muscles to adapt.
The risk of injury also increases when the posterior thigh muscles become fatigued by pedalling in a low gear and/or maintaining a low cadence.
How to stop hamstrings hurting when cycling.
Many cyclists — all those with desk jobs — spend prolonged periods sitting down. Before they start exercising, their hamstring muscles are already shortened. Therefore, regular self-help exercises (as described opposite) should be the first line of defense. Looking after your hamstrings helps prevent injury.
Do hamstring strengthening exercises two to three times, which can improve your pedaling efficiency and reduce the risk of injury during cycling.
Hamstring exercises for cyclists
- Glute Bridge Raises
Before doing any of the fancy stuff, you need to nail the glute bridge raise. While the name may imply that it’s more of a glute exercise, your hamstrings play a big role too.
Lie on your back with your knees bent to roughly 90 degrees, and your heels pressed firmly into the floor. With your hands at your side, push your hips off the floor as high as you can, all the time squeezing your hamstrings and glutes.
These aren’t too tough but are a great way to start to feel your hamstrings working. Try a couple of sets of 15 at the start of your workout as a bridge between your warm-up and the heavier work.
2. Glute Ham Raises
If you train in a commercial gym, you probably aren’t too familiar with these, which is a shame, because glute ham raises offer a multitude of benefits. They’ve long been used by powerlifters for strengthening the group of muscles known as the posterior chain, which comprises the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, and are an absolute must for any woman looking to target those pesky saddlebags and butt muscles. As a cyclist, they’re your new best friend too.
Chances are unless your gym caters for athletes, you won’t have a glute-ham raise machine. Worry not though, there’s a simple, but just as effective alternative that you can do using one piece of equipment that almost every gym on the planet has – the lat pulldown.
Kneel on the seat, so that you’re facing away from the weight stack, with your heels secured firmly under the knee pads. Shuffle forwards so that your knees are right on the edge, and hold your hands in front of your chest. Slowly lower yourself towards the floor by straightening your legs, while keeping your lower back and core muscles held tight. Control the descent by keeping your hamstrings tensed. Once you can’t lower yourself any further slowly, use your hands to push you back away from the floor. On your first go, just try three sets of three reps, but add a few more reps or an extra set in each workout. You should also aim to make your descent slower over time, and use your arms less on the upwards phase.
No matter how healthy your legs feel, adding in extra hamstring work is always a good idea. Stronger hamstrings will make you a faster, healthier rider.
Its better to add the hamstring excersise in your Schedule. Happy Riding