Programming To Prevent and Rehab Hamstring Injuries
Many of the components that make up a good rehab protocol will also make up a solid training and prevention program. Following a complete screening process coaches should include the following exercises when rehabbing or training to prevent hamstring injuries.
Posterior Chain Strength
Athletes who suffer from hamstring strains often will also suffer from a lack of functional posterior chain strength.
There is usually a large disparity between the time they have spent training in their sport and the amount of time they have spent in the weight room. Either that or they have invested too much time doing bilateral exercises or using machines like the leg curl or leg press.
Single Leg Deadlift, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat and Slideboard Leg Curl variations are three exercises I value greatly when training for performance and hamstring health. When done correctly the high unilateral loads that exercises like these place on the posterior chain can condition the tissues to the forces they will have to endure while sprinting.
No hamstring strain prevention program would be complete without training the movement that frequently causes the injury. Once you've built adequate baseline strength in the weight room it's important to build dynamic strength through progressive sprint work.
In the early phases of training we will use tempo running to aerobically condition the athlete and build up tissue tolerance to sprinting. Progressively increasing intensity allows the tissue to adapt to contraction speed and gives the coach an opportunity to coach running form over longer distances. As the athlete advances we will begin focusing on high intensity sprint and acceleration drills so they can train at the intensities that will need to display in a game setting.
With intelligent screening, programming and coaching I firmly believe that hamstring strains can be placed into the "preventable bucket." Very often "intelligent" really means "simple" strength and sprint progressions that allow for progressive tissue adaptation over time.
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