Hamstring Injury Prevention
There are far too many hamstring injuries that lead to knee injuries that could cause the season to end for the athlete and sometimes the team’s season.
The Posterior Chain
Conventional wisdom has been that the ratio between the hamstrings and the quads should be 60 percent quads and 40 percent hamstrings, but in reality, we have learned it should be a minimum of 60 percent hamstrings and 40 percent quads.
One of our female track athletes was tested at Ohio State in the Exercise Physiology Lab on a Cybex machine at the 60 percent hamstring and 40 percent quad-level. They were amazed at the results.
I told them we have ten lifters who would test at the same ratio because Westside knows how to train the all-important posterior chain. Westside lifters demonstrate this fact with 35 1,000-pound squatters, 100 800-pound squatters, a 10.15-second 100-meter male, two 400-meter Gold Medal Olympic champs (one male, one female), and an MMA UFC fighter at 185-pounds that can do a Russian Leg Curl with one leg while holding a 45-pound plate for reps.
How did he do the Russian Leg Curl like that? First, he started on the Inverse Curl MachineTM, a patented machine I own. I made it to reduce the weight resistance until it is zero, then you are doing the exercise with body weight.
If you give it a try, after doing the inverse curl with zero weight of the lever arm for at least six reps, drop the chest support arm and try to do a Russian Leg Curl. This action begins the journey to a set of solid hamstrings that don’t fail you in a game.
If you don’t have an Inverse Curl MachineTM, work on a calf-ham-glute (CHG) bench. Soviet Union scientists built the CHG bench for early Soviet Union weightlifters and sprinters like Valeriy Borzov.
Soft Tissue Work
Many injuries are soft tissue related. Dr. Mel Siff of Supertraining fame was amazed that the members of Westside Barbell would do soft tissue work during every workout up to eight a week.
Exercises include 200 leg curls with ankle weights or rubber band leg curls and two to three hundred triceps push downs or external shoulder extensions for the ligaments, tendons, and minor muscles that regularly do not receive activation. Also included is walking in sand or a soft foam pad for ankle and foot rehabilitation.
Three muscles comprise the hamstrings that run from the back of your thigh to just below the knee. They extend the leg straight behind the body and extend your knees. The hamstrings stabilize the knee from the top on both sides. Weak groin muscles can be responsible for miss alignment that will result in a knee injury. Use bands to pull and push your thighs apart and together for prevention.
Note: Leg curl machines are not ideal for building a strong, functional athletic hamstring. The best exercises are inverse curls or a calf-ham-glute bench that works simultaneously at the knee and the hip.
What About the Calves?
The calf will stabilize the knee from below. The calves are two muscles that must be trained by walking, running, weight sled pulls, and seated or standing calf raises with the feet turned at different angles to thoroughly work the calves. Walking and jumping on foam pads or sand will build the strength and endurance needed for participating in all sports safely.
Regular chiropractic treatments are essential to good posture that allow the spine and legs to work correctly. Bad posture will lead to injuries. A tight lower back can cause the IT Band, known as the Iliotibial Band, to shorten and cause pain, leading to tight hamstrings and injuries.
The Psoas attaches from the lumbar spine through the groin and connects to your femurs. On the way, they attach on either side with the iliacus, a flat, triangular muscle that fills the iliac fossa. It forms the lateral portion of the iliopsoas, providing the thigh and lower limb flexion at the acetabulofemoral joint.
A second muscle, the Psoas Minor, works similarly. The Psoas must be kept flexible for good health, but it also must be kept strong. The Psoas will cause low back pain and overly tight hips.
I hope these tips help you stay in the game.