How much fast running is necessary to run faster, and how much is too much and likely to predispose an athlete to a hamstring injury (HSI)? Running fast is the best training for running fast, but it’s also the biggest cause of HSIs, so how do we practically allow athletes to run fast?
Depending on where you look, HSIs are either on the rise, with an average of 1 per 1000 hours in multiple sports. HSIs have also been shown to affect more than one-fifth of elite football players during a season. They are costly to amateur and professional sports teams or leagues. Normally, there are two main mechanisms: over stretch (i.e.: reaching for a ball/player) and high speed running (HSR). We’ll focus on HSR and its influence on injury. The mechanism in HSR appears to be terminal swing phase with a large debate around either an eccentric or isometric mechanism. The work of Buck Thorpe et al, (2018) highlights the multifactorial nature of HSI and provides reference as to the implementation of prevention plans in professional sport. We know that a previous history of hamstring injury is a major factor to HSIs too.
Whilst the mechanism may be highly debated, eccentric hamstring exercises have the highest levels of evidence for injury prevention and should be part of an athletes’ program. The site of where the muscle is injured may also need to be considered with rehab / prevention involving both hip bias and knee exercises. These may be supplemented by isometrics or perturbation exercises but again these needs to be developed and filtered into an athlete’s development. Jack Hickey’s (2017) work would advocate the use of eccentrics early in rehabilitation from HSI. Careful consideration should be given to volume of eccentric exercises, with a low volume (after initial 2-week introduction) doing as well as high volume of Nordic Hamstring Exercises (NHE), and perhaps more important to note was the rapid drop of in strength with a two week break in NHE and athletes need to maintain ‘high intensity’ in the low volume by potentially adding extra weight.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a Hamstring injury, please give us a call on 9948 2826 or book an appointment online.