Hamstrings: we can't run without them! While I see a variety of injuries, the most common injury among runners is a strained hamstring. Running requires a large amount of eccentric strength from the hamstrings for the deceleration of your legs as they make initial contact with the ground. Eccentric strengthening of the hamstrings is very important but commonly overlooked by runners. Physical Therapy in Sports recently published an article that looked at training programs that would reduce thematic use on hamstring eccentric strength.
The researchers in this study sought to compare the effects of muscle strengthening vs endurance training of the hamstrings to limit muscle fatigue. The study was performed with 22 soccer players who were randomly assigned to either a strength program or an endurance program. Eccentric peak torque, angle of peak torque, and ankle of specific torque were all measured prior to the first training session. The subjects were assigned to training programs which were done twice a week for 4 weeks. Both groups of subjects performed a fatiguing protocol for 45 minutes after the 4 weeks of training and the torque measurements were taken again.
The strength program used nordic hamstring curls 5x4 reps with a weighted vest. The endurance program used the same hamstring curl, 5 sets of 12 with just a rubber band. Both the strength and endurance groups showed a significant improvement in eccentric hamstring fatigue.
The take home message is this: Before you stack on the extra plate, consider increasing your reps. This is a safer option (especially after a hard running workout) and can be just as effective when building muscle.
Matthews, M. et. al. Strength and endurance training reduces the loss of eccentric hamstring torque observed after soccer specific fatigue. Physical therapy in Sports. January 2017. 39-46.
Kathleen Leninger, PT, DPT,
NY Custom PT & Performance