Hamstring Injury

I am the strength coach at Marist College (NY). I have a football player who tore his hamstring in HS and since then has pulled the same hamstring every year of college. I have only been here for a year and last year we increased his hamstring strength (he couldn’t do one glute ham raise when I got here). But again this year he pulled his hamstring and barely played. he is going into his 5th year and I want to see him play a full year next year. Does anyone have any ideas to help alleviate this problem.

talk to the strength coach from Pitt. he has a similar story from the strength coach from the Browns.

Pitt??? Never heard of it. Is That a D-III school or what??

I had a football player much in the same situation. He had a great season in 2001 while training with me. The next off-season he had to train with his team and in the summer he tore his hamstring (playing flag football of all things!) and missed the whole season. This summer he worked with me and his hamstring was a priority. and he has been injury free this year. We did very high volume hamstring work. Sets of 50-100 reps performed daily with a jumpstretch elastic band. We did 100 total reps per day (either 1 x 100 or 2 x 50 depending on fatigue levels) on both hamstring curl and hip extension. After 6 weeks on this protocol we added typical strength work for the hamstrings, accentuating the eccentric portion (lowering slowly) and the concentric portion (exploding up), while continuing with the 100 reps of band exercises.

Christain - For the strengthening exercises did you concetrate on Romanian Deadlifts, GH R’s or use very heavy bands mimicing natural movements?

I am a little confused. Basically you were doing high rep hamstring work with band leg curls and working slow yeilding and then eplosive. If this is correct was this done after 3, 4 training sessions or just based on how the leg was feeling? I have done a ton of glute-ham raises, band leg curls good mornings RDL’s ect. with this athlete.

The super high reps with bands is probably the best preventive training method for the hamstrings. Coaches often neglect to improve tendon strength and integrity with their athletes. We often want to prove our efficacy by increase the strength of our athletes as fast as possible. As a result the tendons are never strong enough for the maximal muscle strength.

Super high reps increase vascularization, even in the tendons (which is almost impossible to do even with 15-20 reps per set; which is traditionally seen as vary high reps training). And I find that it not only increases tendon integrity but also muscle tissue integrity and the increased blood flow it causes significantly help with the recovery process.

Slow eccentrics have been proven in clinical settings to be more effective than concentric exercise to treat several types of injuries.

The athlete’s regular workouts did include romanian deadlifts, goodmornings and such exercises. However, when performed for limit strength these drills cannot solve the “proneness” to injury as they will only strengthen the muscles, not the tendons and otehr supportive tissues. That’s not to say that we don’t use these lifts as strength builders! Simply that additional high-volume/low intensity exercises should be added to the regimen.

Then there is always the possibility that the athlete has a structural problem (postural anomalie, flexibility problems etc.) which may make him prone to hamstring pulls.

I’ve also been playing with EMS a lot lately. I’m only testing my protocols on two athletes right now, until I find the proper dosage. But so far, I find that it can do wonders for the hamstrings (BTW, my unit is a COMPEX sport 400 which has several integraed sport programs).

Christian question for you.

Would this protocol be possible with a ham curl machine using very light weights instead of the bands? ie: 2 x 50 with very light weight on hamcurls (say 40-50 pounds)

Are bands essential for this type of work? Also what would you recommend for high ham pulls. (Up near the insertion point of the hamstring near the glute area. This is an area I am currently recovering from. I have found tempo/cycling intervals good for this type of rehab as well. (With extensive flexiblity work)

Its very unusual for it to be the ham itself that is the weak link unless it is less than 60% of its corresponding quad strength. More likely as suggested it will be connected to the lower back or pelvis. Dont forget he probably has a huge buildup of scar tissue as well. Microstretching worked wonders for me in that dept.

Have you explored the possibility of your athlete having a lot of scar tissue build-up from the hamstring tear? Muscles pull much easier when scar tissue is present.

Consdier sending him to a physiotherapist, or an Active Release Technologies specialist.