Better Hamstring Injury Prevention For Your Athletes
Hamstring injuries are by far one of the most common injuries in sports, particularly those involving sprinting, jumping, and kicking, with a high probability of re-injury. The mechanism for injury and the means and methods of prevention and rehabilitation is important for every coach to understand.
One of the greatest risk factors for hamstring injuries is sprinting, with the injuries likely to occur during the terminal swing phase, where the hamstring muscle group encounters the greatest load.
Ironically, research has shown that regularly sprinting actually reduces the likelihood of injury. So the thing that causes the thing is also the thing that prevents the thing? Yup.
So we need to expose our athletes to max velocity sprinting in training, consistently, to keep them healthy and lower their risk of a hamstring injury.
Fast Running Is Not Sprinting
This can't be stressed enough. Running really fast doesn't mean your athletes are actually running at max velocity. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's look at how much exposure to max velocity sprinting we should be exposing our athletes to.
- 150m - 350m of maximal or near-maximal velocity
- Focus on mechanics, such as upright posture, touchdown position, and swing leg action
Keep in mind that the 150m - 350m MV sprinting suggested above does not include acceleration volumes (the build-up to upright sprinting).
While regular exposure to upright sprinting is important, making sure we are building our athletes' foundational hamstring strength will also aid in the prevention of injury.
To build this type of strength we use a variety of unilateral and bilateral exercises, in multiple-planes of motion, spanning the force-velocity curve to hit all three contraction types; isometric, concentric, and eccentric.
Simply put, we want to work on a continuum with all three contraction types from submaximal to maximal progressing from isometric, to concentric, to eccentric loading.
- The hamstring requires training in multiple actions and multiple loading schemes
- Sprinting provides a potent stimulus for hamstring injury reduction
- Strength work should progress towards eccentric overloads
In our CHPC Level 1 online course, we have split the fundamentals of strength development into two parts, where we cover everything from fiber types, contraction types, loading schemes, technique, etc. We also have a module on Speed, Power, and Change of Direction where we discuss means and methods of speed training guidelines, including sample speed sessions.