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Weak/Inflexible Hamstrings and Knee Issues


Is it possible that a weak and inflexible hamstring is contributing to chronic knee pain and instability? I've strengthened the hell out of the quads on the leg and I still get patellar dislocations far too often.

Also, how many of you do dedicated hamstring exercises? The only "hamstring" work I get, traditionally, is stabilization during squats, deadlifts, and lunges.

(I know, you're not doctors, except for those of you that are. I have a consult with a surgeon next week, finally, so this is more for my own information/edification.)


When I was much younger and a retard in the gym, I did shittons of leg extensions. I ended up in PT for knee pain because of my imbalance.

Getting stronger hamstrings might be the solution, but if you're doing squats, DLs, and lunges with any regularity/intensity, weak hamstrings shouldn't be the issue.

Also, hamstrings don't "stabilize" during squats, DLs, and lunges. They're a primary muscle group used in those movements.


Well, I would say each of them is more quads-oriented, but you're right, they're the prime mover for hip extension. How much depends on a lot of factors I suppose.

I do heavy deadlifts pretty regularly, but I joked with my gym owner that I don't have hamstrings. I'm barely aware they exist, because they never hurt, they're never sore, they just kind of are there. Until he had me doing hyperextensions on something called a glute-ham developer. Now I know I have hamstrings because they're screaming at me.

I'm just trying to figure out if it's possible that strengthening them would help my knee. I'm guessing not, but you all are a hell of a lot smarter and better at anatomy/physiology than I will ever be.


I would imagine that if you're squatting properly your hamstrings aren't as weak or inflexible as you think. But if you're quarter squatting I'm not surprised that you have knee pain. Also, you only told us what you do for your hamstrings, but you didn't mention what all you do for your quads. Yeah, a muscle imbalance could lead to knee pain, but so could poor form or many other things that you could be doing.


I actually have a great deal of flexibility issues. Partly hereditary and partly years of inactivity and working at a computer. I'm working through it, but some parts are harder than others. My squat form still isn't there, but it has improved significantly in the last two years. But, the heaviest I go with squats is 70 lbs.

My routine is a bit odd, since I'm training for a PFT, but once a week I do bw lunges or bw squats, and once a week I do dumbbell squats + push press or deadlift + leg press. I'm considering rotating in some Romanian deadlifts.

(If you're intensely curious and want to know my entire training routine, you can see it here: http://fffb.tumblr.com/post/6093712864/the-new-routine )


Good mornings are a great exercise for hammies.

Obv make sure your feel your hamstrings working, don't just go through the motions of a gm


the joints are stacked with their functions alternating between stability and mobility like this:

ankles - mobile
knees - stable
hips - mobile
lumbar - stable
thoracic - mobile

instability to a region often results from surrounding regions being too stable.

so... i'd figure out whether you need to work to mobilize your hips and your ankles. if either your hips or your ankles or both aren't mobilizing as they should the knees might be trying to mobilize to compensate.

lots of ankle / hip mobilization stuff if you use the search function...

(my guess would be that the problem is immobile hips. stretching the hamstrings won't get you very far on things like the goblet squat stretch...)


Are you male or female?

It's definately possible that weak hamstrings are contributing to knee pain, especially if you've increased the strength differential between the hamstrings and quads.

Are you in PT now? If so, why not?

There are tons of hamstring exercises you can do: RDLs, SLDLs, single leg DLs, leg curls, glute-ham raises (sounds like you found this one already, it's a fun one), etc.

Anyways, get into PT if dislocations are a problem. And don't be afraid to ask the PT about their experience, education, etc. And do try to find a clinic where you'll actually be with a PT and not an exercise tech.

Good luck.

<------------------ Not an MD.


Alexus: I like that representation of alternating joint function. I have both immobile hips and ankles. It significantly affects how deep I can squat (safely). I'm working with a trainer once a week on a mobility program and it seems to be helping. Part of the problem is that I've torn and retorn my MPFL twice and now it's a stretched-out mess that can't keep my knee cap in place.

Dr. Pangloss (not that kind of doctor): Male. I've done PT three times in the past for about 6 weeks each time, twice in response to an acute knee injury and once to try and keep it from happening again. I'm in Ann Arbor, MI, so I have access to some really top notch sports clinics.

What's a decent assessment of whether my hamstrings are weak? My DL 1RM is 365 (which is pretty unimpressive given how big I am).


glute ham raises are excellent. Increase your flexibility until you can get to a full squat. Best of luck