Pilates Shanghai Blog

A blog about Pilates in Shanghai and China

What are the Hamstrings?

September 07, 2015 — Derrick Cope

One of the biggest hurdles for people who are new to Pilates is the hamstrings. Common Pilates exercises, like roll up, roll over, and single leg circle, all require good hamstring length. Since sitting has become a large part of our work life, short hamstrings and consequently poor hip mobility has become a fact of life.

fig. 1 The hamstrings are on the back of the thigh. They are comprised of 3 muscles, two on the inside and one on the outside.

The hamstrings are connected to the pelvis and below the knee. They can move the hip and the knee or if they are tight can restrict movement in these areas. More importantly, because of the connection to the pelvis can also affect the lower back and the posture as a whole.

fig. 2 The hamstrings extend the hip and flex the knee. The first 3 figures above from "initial contact" to "take off" are peak uses of the hamstring.

The traditional way to to stretch the hamstrings is to bend forward at the hips toward the toes, but the this isn't very effective. Pilates exercises can be very effective especially with help of some props.

fig. 3 Single Leg Circle with assistance of a theraband can be a very effective hamstring lengthening exercise.