Running Well In 2018: Hamstring Health

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Hamstrings injuries tend to run high in runners, especially long distance runners. And over the course of a few months to a few years, injuries can become chronic, severely painful, and disheartening.

I’d like to offer you some helpful advice for your Hammies to ensure a happier and healthier 2018. No more "rest is the best!" Let's get you moving!! Keep reading to see what you might be missing...

 

Quick Anatomy Recap

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The Hamstring Group is comprised of three large muscles in the back of your thigh. It originates at the lower part of our pelvis (attaching along the sit bones), travels down the back of the thigh and inserts along the outsides of our knee.

 

How Do Hamstrings Work When Running?

Running, especially long distance running, naturally places a great deal of stress through the hamstrings. Hamstrings act as a decelerator during each stride. Therefore, with whichever force you accelerate at for each stride, your hamstrings are responsible for decelerating that same force to bring you back into a neutral position for the next stride.

 

In order to stay happy and healthy during long distance running, hamstrings must meet four main criteria.

 

1.     Hamstring Position

Position matters a great deal when it comes to having well-functioning hamstrings. If they start off in a disadvantaged position, there’s no chance it will self-correct once you start running. Positioning has a lot to do with where the hamstrings start. If your pelvis, where the hamstring starts, is pulled forward in an anterior pelvic tilt, you’ll find that your hamstrings are already starting out lengthened and weak. Therefore, when you take a stride, that hamstring is going to become longer and even weaker. In turn, this could cause it to break down much quicker than a properly positioned hamstring would.

Try These Exercises To Improve Your Hamstring Position

Hamstring Bridge With Reach

90-90 Breathing R Arm Reach

 

2.     Hamstring Strength

Mainly every runner knows strength is important for running. However, do you know why?? Without appropriate hamstring strength, you could find it 10 times harder to run pain-free as the year progresses. Lacking strength in the Hamstring muscles or tendons will cause those microscopic strains to turn into much larger, more problematic strains.

Try These Exercises To Improve Your Hamstring Strength

Nordic Hamstring Curls

Straight Bar RDL

 

3.     Hamstring Stability

Running requires a great deal of single leg stability during each stride. Not only are you balancing your body weight on one leg, you’re adding the added force of acceleration. The largest muscle group in charge of controlling this motion is your hamstring. Hamstring strains most commonly occur on the outside of the muscle near the IT Band, known as the lateral hamstring. This is because, due to asymmetrical positioning, most runners have a hard time engaging their inner (medial) hamstring. This causes most of the stress and deceleration strain to be placed on the lateral end. The best way to improve our overall stability is to make sure we are engaging the entire hamstring during each stability exercise. You may also need an exercise or two solely focusing on improving your ability to engage your inner (medial) hamstring first.

Try These Exercises To Improve Your Hamstring Stability

SL RDL

Zercher Single Leg RDL

 

4.     Core/Ab Strength

The front of our core, where our Abdominal Muscles are, is responsible for helping our hamstrings out when we run. If properly stabilized, they will keep our pelvis and hips in a good position, which in turn will definitely help our hamstrings out when running. Runners must be able to stabilize their core properly in the sagittal plane prior to working on more dynamic stability in the other planes of motion. The first exercise shown below must be mastered before moving on to the second exercise.

Try These Exercises To Improve Your Core Strength

Prone Stability Ball Roll Out Iso

Bear Crawls

 

Without a proper assessment, it is hard to say where your Hamstring Health currently stands. If you want to ensure you stay ahead of pesky hamstring injuries or fix an ailing one, feel free to come see us for a FREE 30 minute Discovery Consultation with a Doctor of Sports Physical Therapy. 

At Adapt, we offer FREE Discovery Consultations prior to beginning treatment to lay out a plan and ensure 2018 is your healthiest year yet. 

No more, "I think I have enough this," or "I believe I need more of this..." Be sure of the game plan you are setting forth come new year. 

Come see us TODAY to make 2018 a year of PRs!!! 

Happy Running!!!