Hamstring Injury Prevention
With many sports looking forward (hoping, wishing, praying) to a return to activity within the next few weeks, it is important to consider the effects of non-specific activity on our return to sport. I have previously talked about “Injury Prevention post lockdown” but here I want to talk specifically about the hamstrings.
Hamstring injuries are the most common soft tissue injury in field sports and sprinting sports. Indeed, most hamstring injuries occur while sprinting. Historically prevention and rehab strategies have concentrated on strength training for the hamstring muscles. It is undoubtedly important to have strong hamstrings whether returning from injury or looking for performance gains but recent evidence would suggest that gym based strengthening exercises can only go so far in preventing of recovering from hamstring injury.
Prince et al 2021 and van den Tillar et al 2017 have demonstrated that exercises used to strengthen hamstrings can only reach up to 75% (and some less) of the amount of muscle activity in the hamstrings when sprinting. In other words, if we rely purely on strength training as a means to prepare the hamstrings for high velocity running, they will be under-cooked. Therefore, potentially increasing the risk of hamstring injuries. Exactly what we are trying to prevent. These symptoms may be linked to certain movements such as turning in bed or bending over. They may be linked to certain situations such as being in a busy supermarket. Or you may not be able to pin point any patterns.
So What to Do?
The key here is to use sprinting itself as a way of preparing and rehabbing the hamstrings. Seems counterintuitive as most hamstring injuries occur while sprinting. However, as stated above, we know that many people are underprepared to sprint through a combination of nervous coaches being weary of sprinting too much (it causes injury remember?), inappropriate high-speed training in many field sports and Physios relying on strength gains as a measure of preparedness.
In very simple terms, vaccines work by introducing our bodies to the harmful bacteria or virus. Our body then adapts, recognises the threat and knows how to respond. The same will happen if we gradually increase the amount of high-speed running in our training and rehab programs. Our bodies have the chance to recognise the “threat” and then adapt. From a hamstring point of view, they gradually Bekoe more robust and when the player sprints in competition, it will be less of a shock.
So as people up and down the country are looking forward to getting back to the track, football pitch, whatever, Now is a good time to start doing a small number of high-speed runs if you haven’t already. Make sure the runs are actually at full pace, take plenty of rest between runs and sessions, and slowly increase the number of sprints you are doing. Your hamstrings will love you for it
- Prince C, Monin J-B, Mendiguchia J, Lahti J, Guex K, Edouard P, Samozino P (2021) Sprint Specificity of Isolated Hamstring Strengthening Exercises in terms of Muscle Activity and Forcs Production. Front.Sports Act. Living 2021
- Van den Tiller R, Asmund Brevik Solheim J, Bencke J (2017) Comparison of hamstring Muscle Activation During High Speed Running and various hamstring Strengthening Exercises. INt J Sports Phys Ther 2017
- Edouard P https://sportperfsci.com/sprinting-a-potential-vaccine-for-hamstring-injury/
PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath
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