The hamstring muscle has an image problem. It’s a tough muscle to see when we look in the mirror and is often taken for granted. However, extensive research has proven how important it is for ski racers to have strong hamstrings in order to prevent knee injuries and ski fast.
Eccentric hamstring strength is especially important and this is a classic eccentric hamstring strength exercise that can benefit ski racers at every level.
- Warm-up and stretch thoroughly before attempting this exercise - Have a partner hold down your lower legs firmly as you lower your torso - Maintain a neutral spine with your head up - Keep your shoulders, hips, and knees in line - do not bend at the waist - Start with knees bent at 90 degrees and lower your torso slowly - Lower your torso 45 degrees to a bench - Keep your hands out in front of you to catch your fall - Push-up off of the bench to get your torso back to the starting position - Challenge yourself by lowering your torso as slowly as possible and remove the bench to increase the range of motion and degree of difficulty - Once you’ve mastered the exercise, try holding a medicine ball in front of you to increase the resistance even further
- Performing this exercise if you have had a recent knee injury - Bending at the waist - Going too fast - Lowering your torso farther than your current strength level can handle - Overuse injuries – stop before your hamstrings cramp
If you haven’t already, incorporate this eccentric hamstring strength exercise into your dryland training. As always, know your limits, focus on form, control your movements, and have fun.