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A New Approach to Healing Hamstring Strains

How progressive movement training, not rest, accelerates recovery from this common injury.


You know it the minute it happens. 


You’re gaining speed and as your foot hits the ground a lightning bolt of pain runs up the back of your thigh.


Or you think you are ready to react to your opponent's next move, but as soon as you break down to take a step and move with them, a sensation like someone grabbing and holding the back of your thigh stops you in your tracks.


Most likely, you got a strained hamstring.


Images of bleeding, swelling, and bruising flood the mind.


If you have bruising and swelling, you likely need to see your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider who deals with sports injuries.


But if you wake up the next morning after straining your hamstring and don’t see any bruising or swelling, I’ve got good news for you.


You can get back on the field faster than you ever imagined.


And today’s blog post will lay the foundation for you to do so.


WHY REST IS NOT THE ANSWER


A movement-based injury will always require a movement-based solution.


When you strain your hamstring, your body goes into protection mode.


If you are over-striding when you walk or run, where your leg lands in front of your body, you will light up your hamstring and your brain’s warning system and immediately get the “Shut It Down” signal.


While rest seems sensible, avoiding movements requiring your hamstring to work will leave the hamstring weaker and more vulnerable to re-injury.


How you ask, can you go from a hamstring that feels like jello ready to explode to full-on sprinting and change of direction?


Following a carefully orchestrated plan to re-introduce movement patterns will allow you to build hamstring strength and control without re-injury..


You may imagine a series of hamstring-specific exercises that you do with flimsy rubber bands or sitting on a machine and repeatedly bending your knees against a pad that provides resistance to isolate your hamstrings.


This is not that.


Your hamstrings don’t work in isolation. 


They powerfully contribute to movements like sprinting and jumping.


When you learn how to retrain these patterns progressively, you will side-step months of rehab and return to the field, court, or track in a fraction of the normal time for hamstring rehab.



WHERE TO START

Organizing your posture, specifically your pelvis, is critical to improving your sprinting mechanics and strengthening your hamstrings.


Most often, the athletes we see with hamstring strains stand in an over-extending low-back posture. This automatically tilts their pelvis forward and puts the hamstrings on maximum stretch from the get-go.


In standing, you can find a neutral pelvis position simply by putting your feet under your hips with your toes pointed forward, squeezing your butt cheeks, and exhaling to pull your belly button in and your ribcage down.










Our first stop to ingrain this pattern of postural stability is with our favorite assessment/warm-up drill, Dead Bug Home Position.










If you can’t keep your back flat on the ground with your knees straight and your quads firing, start in this modified position:










The goal is to work up to three 60-second holds in the full Home Position. If you’re not there yet, this is your first daily homework assignment. Do 3 max holds in the home position, resting for 1 minute between sets.


Our second order of business is to get you on your feet and get you moving.


After you’ve knocked out your Dead Bugs, it’s time to do some High Knee Marching in Place.










You’ll do three 15-second intervals of this drill. Take your time doing this drill and take the lessons you learned from the Dead Bug (chin down, ribcage down, tall pretty posture) as you march.


Progressing from marching, the last part of this initial recovery phase is putting you in an athletic position and relearning good sprint mechanics.


The wall drill is a low-speed opportunity to introduce good acceleration posture-a forward lean, and proper knee drive and leg action during your sprints.


Take what you learned in the Dead Bug and March and apply those posture lessons to this drill










3 sets of 5 reps on each leg with 50% effort is a good place to start with the Wall Drill.


TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

Hamstring strains can cancel an entire sports season or even end an athletic career if they become chronic.


Today’s discussion may be a different approach to rehabbing your hamstrings than you’ve previously experienced.


What we’ve learned from decades of research and 10’s of thousands of hours helping athletes and active individuals get back in the game is that our field is always evolving.


We used to be where you are now.


Relying on our previous experience.


Wondering if there was a better way to help heal injuries.


Wondering if you’d ever be 100% again.


If that’s you, we hope you can apply the lessons in this article today and feel empowered to do more.


And if you want to know where to go from here, let’s talk!


You can talk with an actual sports medicine professional for free and see if you’re a good fit for our clinic’s approach to healing hamstring injuries.


Or if you’ve got another area of your body holding you back from feeling, moving, and performing your best, we’re here to help!


You can reach out to us by clicking the "Schedule A Consultation" button in the top right corner this page or reaching out to us at info@restorethrive.com.


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