Imagine you trained well for a significant race, got yourself into form and cruised through the first half of the course without any issues, and were on pace for a nice PR. All of a sudden, you started to notice tightness in one of your hamstrings. In the beginning, it was a hindrance that could be ignored, but the tightness got steadily worse until your hamstring was a stiff, painful mass of tissue which cried out to cease.
You slowed down, you ceased to stretch, massaged it, but nothing helped. Realizing that this was the conclusion of your race, you limped to the end, disappointed and frustrated that after six months of attentive, time-consuming preparations, some strips of muscular tissue in the back of your thigh had prevented you from attaining your goal. Does this situation sound familiar to someone or has this happened to someone you know?
Hamstring difficulties are common among runners, with strains, pulls, tendinitis and tears being the most commonly reported damage or injury to the hamstring muscles. Are hamstring issues common? Most distance runners have developed a scenario called “quad dominance,” a scenario that takes place when the quad muscles overpower the action of the hamstrings at the movement of the leg through a running stride.
Logging a great deal of miles on the streets can put repetitive functional overload on the quadriceps, which makes them powerful, strong and dominant. When the quadriceps contract as you land, the hamstrings, the opposite muscles, act as brakes for your knee to stop against hyperextending in the conclusion motion of a stride.
The quad functions when the knee is locked out in expansion with motion happening in the hip (the forward swing of a stride). The quadriceps work along with the hip flexors to flex the hip as you run. In addition, once the hip is fixated with movement taking place in the knee (when the leg is planted on the floor), the quads function as extensors of the knee.
If your hamstrings are significantly weaker than your quads, due to a continuous loading of the anterior (frontal) chain from jogging or running, particularly seen in athletes, then one of two things will happen: first, your hamstrings will tear as a consequence of not being able to take the load created by the contracting quadriceps and momentum out of hip extension; and two, you will run slower as a consequence of diminished power from the hip flexors and knee extensors since the hamstrings have to contract earlier to have the ability to break the ensuing movement.
Regrettably, once you get yourself into this quad-dominating problem, it’s difficult to undo. Hamstring injuries are rather slow to cure, and athletes regularly spend plenty of time resting before they are able to train without much pain towards carrying out activities. However, like muscle injuries, distress tends to return again and again, particularly because most athletes fail to deal with the root cause of their problems.
When the quadriceps are concentrically contracting (as you land), the hamstrings need to be eccentrically contracting to check the movement. It has been proven for producing activities, that contractions will have limited gains in strength. For this reason, focusing upon loading is critical.
By executing a suitable strengthening program for those hamstrings using a series of specific, isolated, and abnormal exercises, such as those in which muscle fibers lengthen because they contract, you can remove the quad dominance, and keep yourself healthy, powerful and quick. It is possible to begin with the following three simple hamstring exercises below to help treat an athlete’s hamstring injuries, improving strength, flexibility and mobility.
The exercises here will strengthen the hamstrings while the muscles actively lengthen by mimicking the “grab” of a leg’s swing period whilst jogging. Each of these exercises 8 to 12 times for 3 to 4 sets. On moving from the center, focus, and remember that the emphasis is on the portion of the motion.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Athletes engage in a series of stretches and exercises on a daily basis in order to prevent damage or injury from their specific sports or physical activities as well as to promote and maintain strength, mobility and flexibility. However, when injuries or conditions occur as a result of an accident or due to repetitive degeneration, getting the proper care and treatment can change an athlete’s ability to return to play as soon as possible and restore their original health.
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