Many runners and other athletes, like you, understand that strength training improves performance, reduces injury risk and decreases the likelihood that you will see us in physical therapy!
However, we have found that you may be strength training because you feel that you are supposed to but these workouts are more than simply checking a box.
It is important to think about how you are training a particular muscle group during your workout. This change in focus may be the secret to eliminating future hamstring injuries that cause many to look for a physical therapist.
Many people strengthen the hamstrings in a concentric (as the muscles shorten) fashion, however most hamstring strains occur as the muscles lengthen and work to slow down the swinging leg.
It is essential for any runner or athlete that performs a great deal of sprinting to develop a large amount of eccentric (muscle contraction that occurs as it lengthens) hamstring strength.
Eccentric hamstring curls are a great way to build this quality and the double leg variation on a physioball is a great place to start! Click here to see this exercise.
Once you have mastered the double leg eccentric glute bridge, it is time to step things up to the single leg progression.
How do you know if you are ready to move on? A great goal to shoot for on the double leg version is 10 FULL repetitions with a full 5 second lengthening period on each rep. The hips should not be dropping, and you should feel your abs throughout the set!
As we continue to build eccentric hamstring strength, this drill will add some additional challenges.
One leg will be flexed with the hip and knee at 90 degrees, mimicking a sprinting position. The result is one hip in a position of flexion while the other is in extension, much like sprinting or running. This will challenge your ability to control the position of the pelvis as you demonstrate hamstring strength.
Click here for the single leg progression!
Once you have mastered the single leg eccentric hamstring curl on a physioball, you can progress even further. To learn how to do that amongst other ways to optimize your strength training, click here.
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