Now that the football season is coming to an end it’s time to get to work on strengthening those troublesome ‘strings. In this series of training tips, we will run through the how & why of some of our favorite methods to improve the strength and durability of your hamstrings. To ensure they can stand up to the rigors of another long pre-season. So if you or one of your teammates has some troublesome hamstrings. Share this with them to help them prepare to make next year the strongest yet.
NORDIC HAMSTRING CURL
The Nordic hamstring drop/curl is a great exercise you can throw into your program that you won’t need any equipment for.
The emphasis on eccentric loading of the hamstrings makes it a great way to help prevent hamstring strain given that more often than not hamstring injuries occur when the muscle is under load and lengthening (eccentric).
Start off easy using bands or by offsetting the load for assistance and gradually increase the load by reducing the band strength or increasing the range.
ECCENTRIC PAUSE DEADLIFT
Time under tension is one of the key aspects of increasing the strength of a muscle. Pause deadlifts are a great way to help increase that time under tension.
Generally, pause deadlifts are used to increase strength by lifting from the floor and pausing with the below the knees on the way up. In order to focus on the eccentric strength of the hamstring for this variation, you will pause on the way back down.
As you lower the bar, focus on loading through your hamstrings taking 2-3 second to drop the bar below your knees, then pause the bar for another 2-3 seconds keeping it close to your shins, again keeping the load through your hamstrings.
As eccentric work can be quite taxing aim to keep the volume of this work low. 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps would be a good place to start.
BANDED HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Tight hip flexors which can be a result of spending prolonged periods sitting down or inactivity.
This chronic tightness can lead to the development of an anterior pelvic tilt. As the pelvis tilts towards the front, the shift causes a lengthening of the hamstring which attaches to the rear of the pelvis. When you load the hamstrings through weight lifting, running, jumping etc. the already lengthened muscle is at an increased risk of strain.
By stretching, mobilising and strengthening the hip flexors you can help to shift the pelvis back to its natural position and ease the load on your hamstrings decreasing the likelihood of injury.
GLUTE BRIDGE MARCH
Often when the glutes are weak or inactive the hamstring can be forced to take the brunt of the load when running, jumping, generating & accepting force.
Being the bigger, stronger, more powerful muscle group it is far more effective and beneficial to spend some time ensuring the glutes not only engage correctly but are also strong.
This exercise is great for exposing and strengthening any weak points for you to focus on. Aim to move slowly and maintain constant tension through the heels into the floor, keeping the torso parallel to the ground.
Focus on keeping the hips up as you transition between feet. Keep marching until you are unable to maintain effective form.
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