It gets tiresome reading about players having a hamstring injury that prevents them from playing, especially when they are some of the team’s fastest players. After the player is injured, the teams become cautious. But of course it is a little too late. Why weren’t measures taken to prevent the hamstring injury?
As I’ve stated many times, hamstring problems are one of the simplest to avoid but one of the more difficult ones to rehabilitate. The continual injuries to the hamstring muscles appear to be happening because the teams don’t do any technique (form) work on running or cutting. Nor do they do specialized strength exercises to strengthen the hamstring muscles as they are involved in execution of the running and cutting skills.
Teams consider the injuries as being “part of the game” and lament the fact that the player cannot play. Sadly, this practice will continue until the teams realize that hamstring injuries are preventable. They are almost always due to improper technique and insufficient strength of the muscles as they are used in execution of the skill.
The hamstring muscles are most frequently injured in play while running, accelerating and changing direction while in motion. But, as far as I know, there is not a single professional or collegiate team that does technique analyses or scientifically based work to improve or fine-tune the player’s running or cutting technique.
Nor do the teams do any specialized strength training that is specific to the joint actions that occur in these skills. They continue to do general strength exercises such as the knee (leg) curl and deep squats to prevent hamstring problems. However, these exercises are not specific to the actions that occur in the above-named skills.
The most effective exercise that strengthens the hamstring muscle and the tendons at both ends, in sequence, is the glute-ham-gastroc raise. It can best be performed on the Yessis Glute Ham Back machine which is made specially to correctly do the glute-ham-gastroc exercise as well as other hip and core exercises.
I have never had an athlete experience a hamstring injury if he did the glute-ham-gastroc raise on a regular basis and had proper technique in execution of the running and cutting actions. These are the two key factors for the prevention of injury. But yet they appear to be lacking on almost all teams.
Teams often have the players stretch the hamstrings with toe touches or exercises similar to this. However such exercises may also be the cause of hamstring problems. For example, many players are proud of the fact that they can touch their toes when they bend over with straight legs.
However, because you have a rounded back to reach this far you overstretch the ligaments of the lumbar spine more than you stretch the hamstrings. As a result, you end up with a looser back more prone to injury rather than a safer or stronger back or hamstring muscle.
By doing the glute-ham-gastroc raise and exercises such as the good morning or hip extensions on the Yessis Glute Ham Back machine you get dynamic stretching and strengthening of the hamstrings. This is a key factor in prevention of hamstring injury. You need strength in the range of motion in which the muscle acts in execution of the skill.
Proper running and cutting technique and exercises specific to running and cutting are not an unknown entity; there is much information available that can easily be incorporated by the teams. But it appears they are not taking advantage of what is an already proven formula for the prevention of injury to the hamstrings.