3 Ways to Kick a Hamstring Injury Wendy Winn, PT, OCS, NY Custom PT
Avoid Overstriding. Overstriding nearly always leads to hamstring injuries! The hamstrings’ tendon originates at the pelvis. When you kick out too far in front of your body when running, your hamstring has to work very hard to pull the rest of your body over your legs, leading to strain and injury.
Expert tip: to figure out where you are landing, film yourself running from the side. (Try to get as direct of a side angle as possible!) Stop the frame when your foot first makes contact with the ground and draw a line straight up. Ideally, the line will bisect the pelvis and center of mass. If your foot is too far forward, you are probably over striding What to do: Practice Landing with your foot closer to your body. Our favorite drill for this is:
Standing tall, kick your leg out to the front, keeping your knee straight. Swiftly engage the back of your leg and pull back and down. Where your foot lands should be your foot strike in running!
Know your patterns. Which came first, the hamstring or the glute? Both muscles extend the hip in running, but the glute should turn on first! If not, your hamstring will be overworked!
Expert tip: to test your firing patterns, assume a quadruped position (on hands and knees) and extend one leg out the the back, straightening the knee. Hold it there…. what is working more?
What to do: We suggest using this test to re-wire your nerve firing patterns for running! Practice kicking your leg to the back, STARTING at the butt. And hold it!
Keep it tight. Many leg injuries are a result of an unstable core (you knew it was coming!) If your middle is Jello, your legs have to compensate… and run too! Keeping your center strong improves efficiency and keeps your pelvis in alignment. Expert tip:We try to have all runners connect to their deep core muscles while running. One common cue we use is “squeeze your butt!” By squeezing your butt, your pelvis and core usually align themselves naturally!
What to do:Stand turned to the side facing a mirror. Stick that booty out and then practice pulling it back in. Be careful not to overdo it. Practice getting into this position and holding it using your lower abs and glutes, then practice it out on the road!
Lastly, we advise clients to decrease hills and speed work, as they place extra stress on your hamstrings. Once you have strengthened your glutes, we also advocate for extensive hamstring strengthening. Hamstring rehabilitation can take up to several months; our best advice is to quickly address any discomfort and to use our tips to prevent injury!
Custom Performance NYC provides physical therapy, performance, and recovery services for all humans empowered by running. @nycustompt