How to Do a Hamstring Curl: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a hamstring curl to help with knee strength, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: Jul 24, 2023
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The human body is a complex masterpiece of muscles and joints, each playing a crucial role in everyday movement. Among these vital components, the hamstrings stand out as a group of three muscles located on the back of the thighs, often overlooked and underappreciated. Yet, these mighty muscles are indispensable in numerous day-to-day activities, from walking and climbing stairs to bending over and lifting objects. 

Since your hamstrings are involved in so much, hamstring weakness can affect a lot of different daily activities and make you more prone to injury or knee pain. The good news: There’s plenty you can do to strengthen your hamstrings, such as hamstring curls (sometimes called leg curls). Keep reading to learn more about how hamstring curls can benefit you, and how you can incorporate them into your routine.

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Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

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What Is a Hamstring Curl?

A hamstring curl is a strengthening exercise that involves bending your knee from a standing position so your heel moves toward your butt as it lifts your lower leg. Hamstring curls can be done on exercise machines, but they’re also easy to do on your own at home, without any equipment.

What Muscles Does the Hamstring Curl Work?

You guessed it. Hamstring curls are an isolation exercise that primarily work your hamstrings, which activate as you lift your heel up to your butt. This helps with knee flexion (bending) in everyday life, as well as hip extension (opening your hips up). Along with building leg strength, hamstring curls can improve balance and stability. 

Hamstring Curl Benefits

By building strength in your hamstrings, this simple-but-powerful exercise can benefit you in several ways, including: 

  • Improving balance and mobility 

  • Improving leg stability, which can reduce the risk of injuries, especially in the knees and lower back 

  • Improving overall knee health by balancing strength in the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and hamstrings

  • Supporting your lower back and alleviating back discomfort in daily activities

  • Making it easier to walk, run, climb stairs, and stand up from a seated position 

Hamstring Curl: Exercises and Modifications

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Hamstring Curl

Hamstring Curl

Hamstring Curl

Hamstring Curl

To do a hamstring curl:

  • Stand with both hands resting on a sturdy surface like a table or chair. 

  • Lift one heel off the floor and move it toward your butt. 

  • Squeeze the muscles in the back of your leg while you hold this position. 

  • Lower your foot back to the floor.

Hamstring Curl Modifications

Hamstring Curl Modifications

Hamstring Curl Modifications

Hamstring Curl Modifications

To make the hamstring curl easier: 

  • Limit how far you raise your foot toward your butt.

To make the hamstring curl harder:

  • Place a looped band around your ankles for extra resistance.

  • You can also try using ankle weights to increase resistance. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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