Over the course of my playing and coaching career I’ve came across many athletes (myself included) that have experienced hamstring injuries. In my experience, a hamstring injury can result for many different factors – dehydration, improper sprint technique, insufficient work capacity etc. In this article I will provide you with 6 Key Factors that will DRASTICALLY reduce the chances of you experiencing a hamstring injury!
1. Stay Hydrated
If you become dehydrated during competition there’s a VERY good chance you may experience cramping and or muscle pulls. Here’s two simple things I recommend to all my athletes prior to competition in order to stay hydrated:
Consume Plenty of Water – General Guideline: Take your body weight (Pounds) X .66 = Ounces of water you should be consuming each day.
Add Himalayan Pink Salt to your Water – Add 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Salt 30 minutes prior to competition.
As an added note, try to limit the amount caffeinated beverages you consume as they will draw fluids out of your system and dehydrate you.
2. Perform a Proper Warm Up
A proper warm up should consist of general full-body movements, followed by muscular activation drills for the core and glutes, general upper and lower body mobility drills, dynamic upper and lower body mobility drills and conclude with priming the central nervous system.
Here’s a complete pre-game warm up you can use prior to games that will increase your core temperature, range of motion, work capacity, and reduce the potential for injury!
3. Improve Sprint Technique
When your foot travels past your hip it causes a breaking force (extreme stress) on the hamstring which increases the probability of the muscle to pull. Clean up your technique by incorporating hill sprints, skipping drills, sled drags, sled pushes, and multiple sprint start variations!
4. Develop Eccentric Hamstring Strength
During the late swing phase of your sprint your hamstrings will need to contract eccentrically in order to decelerate the lower leg. This will prevent the lower leg from extending too far out. If the knee excessively extends during this part of the swing phase, the foot will strike the ground in front of your hip which is NOT GOOD and what I believe to be the number one cause of hamstring pulls.
With all this being said, this is why eccentric hamstring strength must be part of a comprehensive strength training program. Here’s one of my favorite exercises to implement with my athletes to develop eccentric hamstring strength: Valslide Eccentric Leg Curls
5. Improve Work Capacity
Your body needs to be able to support high velocity contractions it’s capable of producing. Before starting your max-effort sprints this off-season expose your body to stresses of speed sub-maximally.
6. Simulate Sprint Paths used in Sport
As you get closer to spring it’s becomes important to start simulating sprint paths that are used on on the diamond. For example: Curvilinear Sprints (Shown Below). I implemented these with Chris towards the conclusion of his off-season training to simulate him rounding the bases. This will expose his body to a new stressor which will prepare him to withstand heavy sprint volumes once spring training begins.
Usually the first week or two of camp guys become extremely sore and may even experience a lower limb injury. I believe a big reason for this is that their simply not prepared and their bodies haven’t been exposed multiple planes/directions. Simulating sprint paths used on the field will drastically decrease the potential for a lower limb injury to occur.
I hope this article was able to provide you some value! If this article was helpful to you share it with friends so they can benefit as well. Thank you for your help and support! -Alex