Visit Bodyspecs at for more Fitness and Sports Performance Information

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I am on hiatus from BSI. I just got back in from an aggressive trail hike. I'm way up north. Beautiful day for a hike because the snow is no good for downhill or cross country skiing. On my return I recalled an article I posted some time ago on the hamstring. The hike inspired me to reach into the BSI 'Classic post vault for a re-post.....

...flexible hammies tear too!

"I pulled a hammie'. I know what I'm about to say is cliche as all get out but, if I had a dollar every time I heard that I'd be living next to that Facebook kid! I would have even MORE than that if you could see the looks on those same faces when I say your hamstring(Hs) is fine: Priceless!! Allow me to explain.

The Hs does more than bend the leg. It also controls rotation of the tibia(lower leg) every time we take a step. This is even more important when you accelerate the stride frequency: sprinting. The Hs is comprised of several muscles that originate behind the gluteus maximus(you sit on both). They travel the length of the leg towards several attachment sites behind, and on both sides of the knee. When I show this to people with Hs  injuries they are shocked at how long it is and where it attaches. Because of its complex network of muscles the Hs controls rotation of the femur as it sits on top of the tibia. This relationship has far reaching influences on the ankle and foot.  Mind blowing  I know. Now while you are wrapping your brain around that, consider how the Hs can get 'hurt'.

The upper body and lower body are inextricably linked to lower body locomotion. In fact, running  speed depends a great deal on the mobility, joint timing(coordination) and power of the shoulders, trunk and hip complex! So when you suffer a hammie pull I can guarantee you that you lack proper mobility in those areas.

When we are training athletes at BSI to improve  mobility, power and stability. we won't focus on strength of the hamstring,  directly, but we work from the 'top down'.  Therefore we address how to engage  lower quarter joint timing as it relates to the shoulder, trunk and hips. These are the true drivers of running. NOT the legs. If you are not convinced then try running  with your arms across your chest. We will often do this in our training to help engage trunk power, postural stabilty/balance and demonstrate how important the upper body is in running. Attempting to strengthen the Hs using resistance machines is a waste of time. It simply is not effective enough especially if you are engaged in athletics.

Finally, the Hs works in concert with the upper and lower body. When you sprint the implications are far reaching.  The orchestrated contraction of muscles from the shoulders to the hip and finally into the lower leg are paramount for protecting the Hs from injury. So if you are suffering from chronic hamstring pulls, but you keep doing hamstring resistance curls at the gym, I would STRONGLY recommend starting from the 'top down'! Doing resistance training for the Hs is a waste of time and counter productive!

No comments:

Post a Comment