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Old 08-09-2011, 08:28 AM   #1
Ross Hunt
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Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Hi, all,

For those of you who include short, fast sprints in your training, how do you program them so that you don't have to worry too much about hamstring strain?

I've been running sets of 200m on off days in between oly lifting without too much trouble; I tried running some 100m and then progressing to 200m this morning and pulled my hamstring halfway through.

The only two consistent patterns I've been able to notice in hamstring injuries I've experienced are:

1) They often follow 1-2 days of heavy quadriceps training (squatting) without an equal volume of heavy pulling
2) They often happen when I neglect dynamic warm-ups.

Other than that I'm pretty much in the dark. I'd like to establish a protocol that I can follow religiously to avoid hamstring strain. Any help is appreciated.

Regards,

Ross
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:38 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Make sure you are doing lifts that eccentrically strengthen the hamstrings such as SLDLs and/or RDLs, and don't place a sprint day after doing these.

Plus your points on 1 and 2... + maintenance of hamstring mobility (although you don't want great hammy mobility as too long decrease stretch-shorten cycle ability).

Good warm up before getting out of the blocks is also important (hence dynamic warmups and such).

Strains tend to occur when fatigued (so the hamstrings don't have the ability to stop the leg from driving forward too fast) or near the start right of the blocks when there is a huge power output driving the knee forwards and the hamstrings aren't sufficiently warmed up properly
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:58 AM   #3
Ross Hunt
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Stephen,

What are your standards for hamstring mobility when it comes to sprinting? Do you think some amount of static stretching is necessary?

My hamstring mobility drills are limited to standing leg swings balanced on foot, 20 per side, followed by lateral leg swings 20 per side. My dynamic flexibility is OK (I keep my torso upright and get my foot above shoulder height but nowhere near my face). I don't really do static stretches. This has sufficed for everything else that I do, but fast people seem to spend more time stretching than I do .
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:13 AM   #4
Ben Moskowitz
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

It sounds like Kelly Starrett recommends that while lying on your back, the bare minimum requirement for hamstring flexibility is being able to raise a straight leg up to/past 90 degrees, a.k.a. perpendicular to the ground. See 2:20 in this video (it contains other good suggestions too)

http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/01/e...ment-prep.html
WFS

If you already have sufficient mobility, you simply need to maintain that with dynamic flexibility and perhaps some static stretching. Static stretching will slightly impact your power output if done before training. However, if you do have any mobility deficits the gains in position will outweigh any losses in power output. Static/PNF stretching is perfectly fine after working out. Keep in mind that sprinters have massive mobility in several positions encompassing lots of muscles, not just the hamstrings: http://www.donchu.com/articles/article4/

Finally, here are two videos of Asafa Powell and his coach Steven Francis explaining all of the elements they use to prepare for sprinting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13ZpOZdJaaQ
http://youtu.be/Hy41fwLE250

Links WFS
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:04 AM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

The "norm" for hamstring mobility on the straight leg raise test (passive) is 80 degrees.... so almost vertical.

I'm not sure what type of hamstring length is optimal for sprinting (I haven't seen any studies done on this).

If you're around normal it should be fine.... you don't want to be doing the splits and trying to get a super fast time.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:59 AM   #6
David Meverden
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Steven mentioned some eccentric hamstring exercises, which was going to be my first response.

My understanding was the hamstring injuries typcially just happen because the hamstring is weak. Work to make the hamstring quite strong and probability of hamstring injury will drop dramatically, yes?

Glute ham raises work the hamstrings tremendously. Great exercise:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0oqLDZ8JcI (WFS)

Hamstring curling with your body weight is even more focused (and difficult. DO NOT try this one unaided until you have built up to it):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57pv_...embedded#at=51 (WFS except for loud music. Hamstring curl is around the 45 second point. He is doing it with a weight vest because he is crazy).

I would think that working one of these in for 2 sets of maybe 8-10 a couple days a week after other work (on days not preceding sprinting) would shore up that weakness. What do people think of that prescription?
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Old 08-12-2011, 02:09 PM   #7
Ross Hunt
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Thanks to both of you.

In hindsight the main cause of the pull was probably just neglecting proper, extensive warm-up (bounding, leg speed drills, etc.)

I have noticed that the few pulls I've had have come after I've jacked up the strength of my quadriceps with a fair amount of quad volume (in this case, two consecutive days of high-bar squats) without a proportionate amount of hamstring volume. Maybe doing more volume jacks up the tonus in one muscle group and leaves the antagonist prone to strain.

In the future I'll try to make a point of balancing out quad volume with some sort of hamstring training (within the workout as well as overall in the training week or training cycle) and see if that feels better.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:31 PM   #8
Steven Low
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Quote:
I have noticed that the few pulls I've had have come after I've jacked up the strength of my quadriceps with a fair amount of quad volume (in this case, two consecutive days of high-bar squats) without a proportionate amount of hamstring volume. Maybe doing more volume jacks up the tonus in one muscle group and leaves the antagonist prone to strain.
Actually, High bar squats are about equal quad/hamstring/glute work more or less.

The high volume on the hamstrings means they will be weaker (likely from the microtrauma the previous day) the next day which creates potential for strains


Also, there was a tnation article like a couple years ago about how someone was using SLDLs to help one of the better sprinting prospects in this country

Ah here it is found it.... #3 (spans page 1 and 2)
wfs
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...ining_athletes

Tempo work focusing on eccentric phase... Probably don't need more than the 8 reps suggested above. 4-5 would probably be fine spread over a couple sets.
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:14 PM   #9
Christopher G. Woods
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Ross, the first red light that went off for me was when you said that you were doing sprints on your "off days". I don't know why this has to be said so often, but "rest days" are called that for a reason. You can't hammer your hamstrings on a daily basis and expect them to hold up. Try running your sprints on the same days as your heavy leg lifts, as opposed to doing them on consecutive days. Likewise, try not to do any jumping movements the day after a heavy lift. Give your hammies a chance to recover before you attack them again.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:10 AM   #10
Ross Hunt
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Re: Programming Sprinting to Avoid Hamstring Strain

Steven,

Thanks. That's a very useful link. I will start incorporating the SLDL into my programming using the tempo and rep range Minor recommends and see how it goes.



Chris,

That is valuable info. I've been putting sprints together with upper-body work (mostly HSPUs and Muscle-ups) rather than barbell work simply because I don't have a track that's located conveniently close to where I lift. How do you program your sprints? Immediately before barbell lifting, the day before barbell lifting, or in some other way?

Regards,

Ross
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