The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of the thighs, and as you can imagine, we use them a lot in running. They’re responsible for driving us uphill, powering sprints, bending the knees and extending the legs.
Issues usually arise due to weakness from either being overly long or shortened and tight. Tight, short muscles are under greater tension, and long, flexible muscles are already on overstretch. In turn, they become more vulnerable to injury.
Quadriceps dominance is also a major contributing factor, leading to a muscle imbalance and less active hamstrings. Poor posture and pelvis position can affect this and an anterior pelvic tilt (sticking your bottom out!) can predispose you to lengthened/weakened hamstrings and quad dominance.
If you experience a sudden, strong pain, with or without bruising, this may indicate a muscle strain. You should stop training and seek advice from a qualified therapist.
To avoid overloading the tissues in the absence of a muscle strain (tear), you can run with some adaptations. Reduce your cadence (steps per minute), and avoid intervals and hill repeats. Cross train with cycling, pool running and swimming. It’s also a great idea to foam roll pre- and post-run. Good strengthening exercises are one-legged deadlifts and glute bridges on a Pilates ball.
Work on improving your hip hinge with deadlifts (consult a trainer about proper deadlift technique first).
Perform hamstring exercises with eccentric focus and time under tension to make your hamstrings more resistant to injury.
Train your glutes! These are the powerhouse of your posterior chain, if they are to weak to perform their duties, you will overload your hamstrings.
WHEN TO STOP – Sharp, sudden, strong pain. You may hear or feel a pop. There may be bruising.
CAUTION – Chronic aching/tightness that makes you adapt a run by slowing down & shortening your stride.
GO – Pain free up hills, during speed work & after prolonged sitting.
If you think you may have a hamstring issue and would like to get some advice you can book an appointment with our team HERE.
Would you like to read more about running injuries – click HERE