Hamstring: Definition and What it is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT

Hamstring Definition and Meaning

Hamstrings are made up of three muscles located at the back of the thigh that are essential for walking, running, and jumping. They include the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris muscles. These powerful muscles work together to stabilize the knee joint and are responsible for bending the knee and extending the hip, making them crucial for movement and balance.

Common Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring injuries are common and can range from a little tightness to minor strains to more serious tears. Hamstring strains happen when the hamstring muscle over extends (or over stretches) and tears. In most cases, hamstring strains aren’t serious and can be treated at home with conservative measures. 

Hamstring Injuries: A Hinge Health Perspective

Your muscles — especially the big muscle groups in your legs — are very resilient and designed to recover from the kinds of issues that naturally can happen in the course of everyday activities or during exercise.

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your hamstrings, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement, while at times painful, helps rehab the hamstring muscles by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the muscle’s strength and flexibility. A physical therapist can also work with you on a strengthening and stretching plan. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

Hamstring Exercises

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 including targeted exercises like hamstring curls, mini squats, lunges, bridges, and donkey kicks. Stretching your hamstrings is equally important with moves like downward dog, knee-to-chest, and the classic hamstring stretch (which can also be done seated). 

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.


  1. Heiderscheit, B. C., Sherry, M. A., Silder, A., Chumanov, E. S., & Thelen, D. G. (2010). Hamstring Strain Injuries: Recommendations for Diagnosis, Rehabilitation, and Injury Prevention. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(2), 67–81. doi:10.2519/jospt.2010.3047

  2. Poudel, B., & Pandey, S. August 8, 2023. Hamstring Injury. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558936/ 

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