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How to Keep Your Hamstrings Healthy as A Climber.

Sep 17, 2021

Hamstring injuries can be one of the most frustrating injuries in sports. The hamstrings are a very involved muscle group and taking care of them is so important for your climbing! 

What is a hamstring? Your hamstrings are located on the back ( posterior) part of your thigh. The hamstring is composed of 3 muscles:

  • Biceps Femoris ( hamstring on the outside)
  • Semimembranosus ( 1 of 2 muscles on the inside hamstring)
  • Semitendinosus ( 2 of 2 muscles on the inside hamstring). 

All of these muscles combined make up the entirety of what we call the hamstring. 

So, the question I'm sure you are all asking….. 

Why is it important for climbers?

You need it for 2 important reasons:

1). Walking and hiking. The approach is also a key part of your climbing skills and having healthy hamstrings is a great tool for a great approach. 

2). Heel hooks. During a heel hook, your hamstrings are activated. If you have a torn or strained hamstring, you are not going to be able to set the heel very well, making you pull harder and not use your legs as much. 

What can you do about an injured hamstring? Should you rest and ice? Ultimately… NO

I know it is a common and traditional thought, but it is a very outdated way of thinking. Actually, complete rest and ice has been shown to delay the healing process. During climbing, you are always going to be loading your hamstrings with functional movements. You are going to want to do progressive loading with functional exercises. 

Understanding the functionality of the hamstring can also help improve your climbing. Knowing what this key muscle group can do and how to rehab it will take your climbing to the next level. 

Do you know what the functional movement of the hamstring is? 

Short answer: it bends the knee. But during a squat, is the hamstring doing anything? Not really! It actually helps it control knee extension! 

During a heel hook, climbers are ultimately engaging their hamstrings more than any other movement. 

As a climber, you need to do 2 things:

  1. Rehab the muscle in the manner you would use to bend the knee.
  2. Rehab the muscle in the manner you would use it to not bend the knee.

Dynamic stretching is a great way to start the rehab process on your hamstring. 

The benefits are:

1). It's a rehab exercise.

2). It’s a good way to warm up before climbing. 

Overall, taking proper care of your hamstrings, and not letting it just rest and ice will help you make bigger sends and give you more of an advantage during your climbs.

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