How Can I Prevent Hamstring Pulls?

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Q: Alex, yesterday in my game I felt a little cramp in my hamstring. I kept playing, and the next inning when I was up, I hit the ball, ran to first and half way down the line I felt a sharp pain in my hamstring. I couldnʼt run without a sharp pain shooting down the back of my leg, so I came out of the game. I went to see a doctor, and he told me I pulled my hamstring, and would be out for 3-4 weeks. My high school travel team has a big tournament next week, and I would hate to miss these games. Is there anything I can do to come back sooner, and prevent this from happening in the future? PLEASE HELP!

Troy S.

Troy, Iʼm sorry to hear about your hamstring. Unfortunately hamstring pulls are extremely common in baseball as they are in any sport. Why are hamstring pulls so common in sports, especially baseball? How do you treat hamstring pulls? And most importantly how do we prevent them?

Dehydration – Proper hydration is KEY! Playing a game in the scorching hot sun, and not consuming any liquids, is a pulled hammy waiting to happen.

How to Prevent it? As a general guideline take [.66 X your body weight], which will equate to the ounces of water you should be drinking each day. However, in the summer months water just isnʼt enough. You need a drink that is loaded with electrolytes, and I DONʼT mean Gatorade! Iʼm talking about coconut water, which is one of the best ways to hydrate yourself. Donʼt like coconut water? Try my natural hydrating lemonade recipe I give to all my athletes:

  1. Bottle filled with 20-24 oz.of Cold Water
  2. 1 Freshly Squeezed Lemon*
  3. 1/8 teaspoon or pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt**
  4. 1 Tablespoon of All – Natural Honey***
  5. Shake very well

* Lemon has the most electrolytes out of all the citrus fruits
**Pink Himalayan salt has 84 Essential Trace minerals and electrolytes
***Honey provides the glucose we need to replenish energy stores after intense bouts of physical activity.

Itʼs easy to make, the ingredients are inexpensive, and it tastes FANTASTIC!

Not Properly Warming Up – No brainer here. If you get to the field and start sprinting without doing any sort of movement prep or activation, your putting your body and muscles (including your hamstring) at extreme risk.

How to Prevent it? Perform a proper warmup consisting of: mobility work, general movement, and CNS(Central Nervous System) activation. You can also add SMR(Foam Rolling/Lax Ball Rolling) before mobility, if time and equipment permits. This warmup should take about 15 to 25 minutes at the absolute most.

Over Striding – When your foot getʼs ahead of your hip it causes a breaking force (extreme stress) on the hamstring. For example: when youʼre at the recovery phase of your sprint, and you go to take the next step where your foot will strike the ground, the hamstring contracts eccentrically FAST. If you canʼt control it and get your foot down fast before it extends out too far, you will over stride. If you posses eccentric hamstring strength youʼll be able to catch it before it extends out too far, and your foot will be right under your center of gravity where you want it to be.

How to Prevent it? Develop eccentric hamstring strength. Below I have attached two videos of my favorite eccentric hamstring strengthening exercises you can add to your workouts.

Eccentric Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian SS (Performed by Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder, Nick Sinay)

 

Slide Board Eccentric Hamstring Curl (Performed by Saint Rose College Catcher, Joe Deluca)

In regard to coming back to play next week for your tournament. Itʼs tough for me to say without knowing the grade of pull. What I did when I pulled my hamstrings earlier on in my career, was to ice the crap out of them! Iʼm definitely not a huge fan of ice, but I have to say for me personally icing 6-8 times a day for 15 min at a time got me back on the field much quicker. If youʼre only icing once or twice, bump that up to at least 6 times. Also start incorporating soft tissue work with a light foam roller applied directly to your hamstring for about 2-3 times a day. This method along with icing helped me tremendously. Start working those recovery methods into your recovery routine and I think they will really help you out. Having said that, listen to your doctor, take 3-4 weeks off and donʼt play till your hammy is good to go!

Hope this helps,

-Alex

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