I have always been a 400 runner and last year running at a university I started doing the 60 and shorter sprints I never did before. I had a lot of back kick so my coach taught me to step over like you are suppose to and triple extend. Whenever I would do that my right hamstring would cramp up and after taking this whole year off I sprinted today and what do you know, my hamstring cramped up again. It happens when I am stepping over and my heel is at my glute. Do you think it can be because of poor mechanics or because my muscles are not use to that kind of movement yet?

I’m a 100/200 sprinter and last year I had a long period of hamstring problems. They are now weaker than they were before and with speed work I have been suffering more soreness and tightness in them, and I’ve also had a very mild strain. I have decided to compete in 400s this year while I develop my hams again in the gym.

I don’t think I can give an answer- just a few ideas to investigate. The first thought is that changing the mechanics will increase the velocity to a level you’re not used to (higher hips, active landing etc). The second is that you might need some treatment for a hamstring injury (more than a cramp) that you sustained before.

yeah the thing is that it’s not at the same area as the last hamstring injury so maybe it’s the first thing you said about velocity increasing and my muscles not accustomed to it yet. How about strength of the hamstrings? Can weak hamstrings cause cramping more often?

What exercises does the group think appropriate to improve hamstring strength?

I am scared to answer this one…as I read more I get more confused about training. When training a muscle group in isolation I think we should consider the following.

(1) Why is my body out of balance? To much submax work for a sprinter will develope quad dominate legs due to the fiber differences in general.

(2) Train compond or more structural single joint work?

(3) Modify the exercise to get more emphasis? Wide squat or deep squat for “activation”? I prefer this method.

where to start?

Besides full-squats…

Reverse glut press (sled)
Med ball throws (lowerbody)
Leg Curls

Reverse hypers
Back hypers
Reverse leg press
Straight leg hip extension
Stiff leg dead lift
hamstring curls

The first 5 exercises are all similar, but I find that the exercise setup that stretches the hams most before contraction causes more tissue breakdown and hopefully more strength development. I also add ham curls since the hams do contract very fast at the knee at step over, but I place more importance on the other ham exercises ie. hip extension exercises.

My programme will consist of back hypers, stiff leg deadlift, straight leg hip extension and ham curls. The other exercises are not available anyway.

I am also interested in specific ham plyos such as swinging hip flexion into extension but I am wary of injury. Any thoughts?

So I ran some 100’s today at an easy 15-16 pace. I have no pain in my hamstring and does not feel tight. If I tried to push it more I felt like it was going to cramp up in the same spot. I drank enough fluids and stretched well but not too much. What could be causing this?