Protecting sprinters from hamstring strains is a huge problem in track and field. It is difficult because at every level, from middle school all the way to high school, sprinting is actually a very stressful thing to do to the body and quite difficult. There are many risk factors for hamstring injuries in sprinters and I want to go through a list based on a research study that I read a few years ago.
Previous Injury: The number one risk factor by far is previous injury. If you're already in a fatigue state and you're sprinting at your maximum, then you're in a vulnerable state. So it makes sense that if you're trying to get more power out of the hamstring and it's not there, you're more likely to strain the muscle.
Hamstring Weakness: Hamstring muscle weakness will also put you at risk for a hamstring strain.
Quadriceps and iliacus flexibility: How much flexibility you have in your hip can impact your risk for injury. Ask yourself, can your hip extend back?
Posture: Lastly, rounded flexed posture that loads your posterior chain, or hyperlordotic posture, will put your hamstrings in an extended stretch position all the time. When you get to a full hip flexion and that starts to create more stretch on the hamstring, you're a little bit more vulnerable for injury.
How to increase Hamstring Strength:
One of the major risk factors that we can actually do something about, is the amount of hamstring strength you have. Hamstring Curl: So most people, when they do a hamstring curl, they just bring the heel up. Instead, while laying on your stomach on a table or bench, with your lower legs hanging off the edge, imagine that there is a piece of paper underneath your thigh. This will fire the glutes and hamstrings at the same time, which is exactly what you need for better sprinting. Contract your abs to neutralize your pelvis and continue with the movement.
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