AskDefine | Define hamstring

Dictionary Definition

hamstring n : one of the tendons at the back of the knee [syn: hamstring tendon]


1 make ineffective or powerless; "The teachers were hamstrung by the overly rigid schedules"
2 cripple by cutting the hamstring [also: hamstrung]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. One of the great tendons situated in each side of the ham, or space back of the knee, and connected with the muscles of the back of the thigh.


One of the great tendons situated in each side of the ham, or space back of the knee


  1. To lame or disable by cutting the tendons of the ham or knee; to hough; hence, to cripple; to incapacitate; to disable.
    • So have they hamstrung the valor of the subject by seeking to effeminate us all at home. - Milton


To lame or disable by cutting the tendons of the ham or knee; to hough; hence, to cripple; to incapacitate; to disable


Verbal noun

rfc-header Verbal noun Hamstring c
  1. The act of buying large supplies of something which is believed to become more expensive or more difficult to get at in the near future.

Extensive Definition

In human anatomy, a hamstring refers to one of the tendons that makes up the borders of the space behind the knee. In modern anatomical contexts, however, they usually refer to the tendons of the semitendinosus, the semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris. In quadrupeds, it refers to the single large tendon found behind the knee or comparable area.
As shown in the diagram, the human hamstring occupies the posterior of the body of the femur.


The word ham originally referred to the fat and muscle behind the knee. String refers to tendons, and thus, the hamstrings are the string-like tendons felt on either side of the back of the knee, the long muscle.
The three muscles of the posterior thigh (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris) flex (bend) the knee, while three of the four extend (straighten) the hip. The short head of the biceps femoris, with its divergent origin and innervation, is not involved in hip extension, and thus is sometimes excluded from the 'hamstring' characterization.
A portion of the adductor magnus is sometimes considered a part of the hamstrings.


The hamstrings cross and act upon two joints - the hip and the knee.
Semitendinosus and semimembranosus extend the hip when the trunk is fixed or extend the trunk when the hip is fixed; they also flex the knee and medially (inwardly) rotate the lower leg when the knee is bent.
The long head of the biceps femoris extends the hip as when beginning to walk; both short and long heads flex the knee and laterally (outwardly) rotates the lower leg when the knee is bent.a push from the hamstring will help you jump higher
The hamstrings play a crucial role in many daily activities, such as, walking, running, jumping, and controlling some movement in the trunk. In walking, they are most important as an antagonist to the quadriceps in the deceleration of knee extension.


Straining of the hamstring, also known as a pulled hamstring, is defined as an excessive stretch or tear of muscle fibers and related tissues.

Use in surgery

The distal semitendinosis tendon is one of the tendons that can be used in the surgical procedure ACL reconstruction. In this procedure, a piece of it is used to replace the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee.


External links

hamstring in Hebrew: שרירי מיתר הברך
hamstring in Dutch: Hamstrings
hamstring in Chinese: 腿後腱

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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