Hamstrings-How I Love to Hate Them


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled/strained my hamstring. I’ve done it doing speed work and I’ve done it by stubbing my toe, which caused me to flip my opposite leg back, throw my arms out into a one legged air plane. But, for what it’s worth, I didn’t fall. That was the last time I pulled it. And I’ve been trying to balance continued training with healing since early May of 2016. Yep. I’ve run a marathon, a 50 miler, 64 miles of an ultra-relay, and three 100 milers.

So here I am with it still hurting nine months later. I went to see my orthopedic doctor. I’m pretty sure it’s healed in a deficient way with lots of scar tissue and thus decreased flexibility and catching on the scar tissue as tendons and muscles slide against one another. Hamstrings take forever to heal because they don’t get a ton of blood.

She was impressed that I’ve been able to maintain my running gait/form enough to not cause secondary injuries. She also confirmed my self-diagnosis. The prescription— eccentric strength training. She says it’s pretty painful but thinks I can tolerate it (yeah I have a pretty high pain tolerance). She’s actually surprised I haven’t done online research and started it on my own (she knows me too well). I admit I’ve been negligent on that aspect of training.

She’s sent me to see a physical therapist twice. Once to learn the exercises and once to follow up. The first appointment is three weeks away, so of course I went back home and did the research I should have done eight months ago. I want to share it with you because I know how prevalent hamstring tears and strains are, how chronic they become, and how easy it is to re-injure them after you’ve done it once.

I do quite a bit of hamstring strengthening as it is because of all the climbing I do. It allows me to take some of the pressure off of my quads which I need to descend. I like to think they are well conditioned since I pass a lot of people climbing even late in a race (and with a painful hamstring).

After reading some research and looking over about ten rehab programs, this is what I’ve put together.I’m not a doctor or a physical therapist, listen to them before me. I can’t diagnose or prescribe anything. It’s up to you to decide if this could help you.

  1. Standing hamstring curl 3 x10 up to 4 x 20.
    1. Use an ankle weight if it’s too easy.
  2. Hamstring catches 3 x15
  3. Bridges 3 x 10
  4. Seated hamstring curl with a band 3 x 15
    1. Knee pulled up as close to chest as possible
  5. Single leg hip extensions on a step 3 x10
    1. Elbows on the step, belly up
    2. Knees bent,
    3. Raise one leg while other heel is on the floor,
    4. Foot is dorsiflexed.
  6. Stiff leg dead lifts 3 x 8-12
  7. Single leg ball pick up10 times
    1. Legs staggered like a lunge only your legs are straight.
    2. The ball is by your forward toe
  8. Lunge with a ball 3 x10
  9. Good mornings with bar 3 x10
    1. Use a pushup bar over your shoulders
    2. Feel a little more than shoulder width apart
    3. Knees slightly bent
    4. Bend at the waist until your torso is parallel to the ground
  10. Norwegian leg curls to failure.
    1. Kneel on the floor (you may want cushion under your knees depending on the surface.
    2. Tuck your feet under something that is low to the ground and can support your weight.
    3. Cross your arms over your chest
    4. Slowly lower yourself toward the floor.
  11. Stretching 2-3 times a day.

Remember to do both legs!

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