Hamstring strains can wreak havoc on a runner’s training program. Unfortunately, hamstring strains are very common, slow healing and often result in persistent symptoms. As many runners have discovered, once they have suffered a hamstring strain, their likelihood of having this injury re-occur is quite high. Time spent recovering from a hamstring strain can cause runners to alter their training program or goals for an upcoming race; thus, many runners have asked, “how can I prevent a hamstring strain?”
Many runners already incorporate various flexibility and strength exercises into their training schedule. In addition to flexibility and strength exercises, recent research regarding hamstring injuries suggests athletes focus on hamstring and quadriceps stretching. A decrease in quadriceps flexibility has been identified as a risk factor for development of hamstring strains. In addition to stretching exercises, routine core strengthening, core stabilization and eccentric hamstring strengthening exercises has been found to substantially reduce the incidence of hamstring strains in runners.
Here are some exercises to add to your workouts to help prevent a hamstring strain.
Perform ten repetitions, three sets each with holding for five seconds. Repeat this three times a day, five times per week.
Bridge Walk Out
- Begin by lying on your back with your hips and knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your hips off the ground into a bridge position, then slowly walk your heels away from your body one a time until your knees are nearly straight.
- Make sure to keep your abdominals tight and do not let your hips drop to either side as you move your legs
- Begin in a standing upright position with both elbows bent at 90 degree angles.
- March slowly forward, lifting one leg to a 90 degree angle, bringing the arm on the same side backward, and opposite arm forward.
- Make sure to maintain upright posture and move your arms and legs continuously in unison.
Supine Hamstring Stretch
- Begin lying on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent.
- Bring your knee toward your chest and grab the back of your thigh with both hands. Slowly straighten your knee until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh and hold.
- Make sure to keep your back flat on the floor during the stretch.
Standing Quad Stretch
- Begin in a standing upright position holding onto a stable object for support.
- Bend your knee and grab that foot with your hand, pulling it toward your body and pushing your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold this position.
- Make sure to keep your back straight and maintain your balance during the stretch.
*As there is a risk of injury with any activity, use caution when performing exercises. If you experience any pain or discomfort, discontinue the exercises and contact your health care provider.