This is going to be a bit of a different article…
How? Well it’s based, however lightly, on my own life. But before we get into the thick of things I should probably introduce myself…
My name is Konrad and I am a seasoned Biokineticist (That’s an Athletic trainer if you’re from the USA) and a sports scientist. I have spent the better half of my adult life pursuing excellence in my specific field. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic but it comes down to this… I know what I’m talking about.
Okay now back to this cool article. Like I previously mentioned that it’s loosely based on my life. Well not my entire life but rather a specific set of events that pretty much pushed me into this career path.
Back in 2007 I was an up and coming track star. I specialized in middle distances namely the 400m and 800m events. So there I was, striding along the back straight, first race of the season. I am feeling good and confident… And then I feel a tug in the back of my thigh, a sharp pop and next thing I knew I was on the ground.
Yip you guessed it, I pulled my hamstring. Absolute disaster. Season over and to be honest I never really recovered from that injury. Why? Well that is what this article is about:
Hamstring Injuries and Running
What they are, how they work and why you need them for running.
Hamstring injuries are some of the most annoying injuries in the world. Yes, this is my opinion but if you ask anyone they will almost always agree with me. The reason I say this is because the hamstrings play such an important role in our ability to move. And that’s why when you injure your hamstrings in any way, you’re immediately limited in your mobility depending on how serious the injury is. This article will cover the:
Anatomy and Biomechanics
We’re going to try and keep this section as simple as possible. Honestly, I’m scared I bore you with the technicalities, however as you will come to understand in a moment, it’s actually quite important for you to have a general understanding regarding this topic.
In terms of the anatomy it’s actually pretty simple, the hamstrings muscle group is made up of 3 main global mover muscles: Biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus.
Honourable mentions: Gluteus maximus, adductor magnus and the gracilis.
The hamstring muscle group originates at the hip or more specifically the ischial tuberosity of the pelvis.
Now in terms of the biomechanics of the hamstring muscle group it’s actually quite straightforward: Flex the knee and extend the hip. That means they play a primary movement role during walking, running and jumping.
As you can see, these muscles are actually quite important. And now that you know what they do, I’m sure you can agree that getting an injury here will be quite annoying.
For runners there are two main injury concerns:
- 1Hamstring Strains
- 2Hamstring Tendinopathies
1. Hamstring Strains
Hamstring strains are known by many different terms such as a muscle pull, partial or complete hamstring tear. This is essentially what happened with me. Hamstring strains are graded based on their severity:
The grade of your specific hamstring strain will determine what your treatment and how long your rehabilitation will end up being.
Risk factors for hamstring strains include:
As you can see the equation is straightforward....
Overtraining? Hamstring strain.
Not training enough? Hamstring strain.
Not enough mobility or flexibility? Hamstring strain.
Not enough rest? Hamstring strain.
Alright that might be a tiny exaggeration, but the point remains, because this muscle group is so important you really need to make a conscious effort to address the above risk factors. Or risk ending up like poor old Konrad. Who knows, I could've been an Olympian by now…
Anyway, on to the next one:
2. Hamstring Tendinopathies
Proximal or high hamstring tendinopathies, as it’s more commonly known as, usually affects the upper section of the posterior thigh. It is an overuse injury frequently experienced by long distance runners.
So, this condition does not technically affect the hamstring muscles per se, but rather the tendon that attaches the hamstring muscle belly onto the pelvic bone. It presents as a deep burning and or aching pain around the buttock area. With pain radiating down the thigh at times.
The pain is usually caused by a sudden increase in training intensity or an excessive training load overtime. The tendon becomes irritated, thickens over time and eventually progresses from a standard tendinitis to a chronic degenerative tendinopathy.
Once this condition progresses it may take several months to a full year to fully repair.
Risk factors for hamstring tendinopathies include:
Both these injuries can affect a runner at any given time. Hence why it’s so important to be clued up on the different risk factors as any single factor or combination of factors can result in an injury.
I know it seems like a lot to process but knowing all of this can really save you years of injuries and frustrations. And to be honest, it was my own lack of knowledge regarding hamstring injuries that resulted in my own personal setbacks.
But luckily for you, in the second edition of this article we’ll be discussing the path to recovery through rehabilitation. As well as preventative rehabilitation to help ensure you don’t get injured in the first place.
And take it from someone who has had 4 separate hamstring injuries in 7 years, you’ll want to hear what we have to say. So sit tight and let my own battles with the dreaded hamstring muscle group save you from months of pain and suffering by keeping or getting you injury free.