Even though hamstring injuries are not as prevalent in powerlifting as team and contact sports, a serious hammy issue can sideline all your lifts for an extended period of time. This post is going to be short and explain some rules to follow for both reducing the instance of and rehabbing all the tendrils of your hamstrings.
Like I said, I want this short and to the point. Here is what your hamstring complex is comprised of:
Your sweet delicious hambones are responsible for knee flexion, hip extension, deceleration when landing and squatting and stabilizing the knees and hips. There are other muscles that lend in a helping tendon to all of these aspects of movement mechanics, but I don’t really feel like explaining how a weak adductor magnus will limit hip extension on a deadlift (… and a future post topic appears).
A few things to consider:
-ANY previous knee or hip injury can contribute to a hamstring issue later on. Especially ACL (or really any knee ligament) injuries.
-The following exercises are not going to be put in place of any of your current strength training. These are preventative/rehab exercises that are backed by a lot of research (that I don’t really feel like citing but most it is in recent issues of the NSCA Journal). Add them in before you train, after you train or on off days.
-Due to the nature of our sport (and team sports for that matter), prevention/rehab modalities must happen via ECCENTRIC HIP FLEXON based movements. Not concentric knee flexion based movements.
So, what are effective strategies for prehab/rehab? Here are several exercises that have been shown effective in research (again, that I am too lazy to put together).
RDL’s- These are not in place of regular RDLs (that should be done with obscene amounts of weight). These should be done with a light weight, a slow controlled eccentric phase and extremely strict form.
Heel Diggs- The order of movement here is:
-Start with your legs straight and hips on the ground.
-Pull your heels to your body.
-Performa a glute bridge.
-SLOWLY return your heels and hips back to the starting position at the same time.
Controlled Landings- This will be the dumbest exercise you’ll ever do. Take a 12 or 18 inch plyo box, stand on it, jump off. That’s it. The eccentric portion here should not be slow. Once you’ve landed, return to a standing, extended position as quickly as possible. Don’t hang out in the landing position for any longer than you have to.
*Side Note On Plyos For Injury Prevention*
ACL tears are rampant in sports, especially with women. A survey study done through the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that youth athletes that regularly performed explosive plyometric exercises had an almost 85% reduction in the instance of ACL tears. Some argue the efficacy and effectiveness of using such exercises for kids, but given the correct circumstances (a coach that’s not a moron, a smart progression from basic hops to explosive plyometrics, taking the time to actually TEACH landing mechanics) it very well could be the difference between a long, fulfilling sporting career or a couple carticel surgeries.
With those exercises- 2-3 sets of 15-25 reps 2 to 4 days a week.
Like I said, short post.
References: You probably have a subscription to the JSCR. It has a search function.
Solum Per Exitum.