Hamstring injuries are one of the most recurring injuries we see in sports and we should be proactive in preventing them. All field sport athletes should be spending time on specific hamstring prehabilitation in an effort to lengthen and strengthen this muscle group.
Lengthen – Lengthening alone will not help! It needs to be done together with strength exercises to have any real effect in reducing injuries. That said a combination of the following are what I use in my rehab protocol.
Strengthen – A real key to hip extension is the glutes, emphasise activation of the glutes in all your hinge based movements. I typically use Romanian Deadlifts for most as well as glute bridges and hip thrusts. I do very little isolated hamstring work in the form of hamstring curls.
Lengthen & Strengthen – Nordic hamstring variations have been shown to decrease the incidence of injury by increasing the length at which peak force is produced. Simply put, this exercise helps make the hamstrings stronger at longer lengths, the length at which they are typically injured. I’d add that glute ham raise (GHR) exercises would have a similar effect and may be more practical.
Don’t Forget the Adductors – In particular adductor magnus acts similarly to extend the hip and attaches alongside the hamstrings on the ischial tuberosity of your pelvis. Adding in lateral elements in warm ups and strength routines will help, I’ve always liked Cossack squats but they are pretty hard. A lateral slide squat is also a good option.
Train at game speeds – In my experience in amateur sport, very little (sometimes zero) time is spent training at match specific running speeds. We can’t expect athletes to handle max efforts under fatigue if they are not training in that realm.
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