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Runners Hamstrings can be a right pain in the rear!

Most athletes, whatever their level, have had a hamstring strain or have had compensation issues because the hamstrings haven’t been working in tandem with other muscle groups.

Issues like lower back stiffness, IT-Band tightness or tight quads which happen for a number of reasons. But the most common causes are down to the way we train.

Most runners and tri-athletes, when training focus on movements that work the front thigh muscles, the quadriceps and hip-flexors. These create neuromuscular recruitment issues between the gluteus, hamstrings and quad muscles that in turn can lead to muscle imbalances which begin to affect the biomechanics of your running. The body is a Kinetic chain and if one part doesn’t work correctly it compensates by trying to make a correction with other muscle groups.

Now that spring is here, most of us prefer to train outdoors rather than train in a gym or performance centre, so over the next few blog posts we are going to give you three training “tools” to help you strengthen your hamstrings and gluteus muscles together.

If done correctly these training modalities help you to recruit more muscle groups during the movements.

Here’s the first of three “training tools” that you can incorporate in your training programme over a six week period that will help you strengthen all the lower body muscle groups and also help with your biomechanics of running.

Backwards Running

A great training tool for both rehabilitation after injury or surgery, but also for performance training.

The biomechanics of backwards running are different to forward running in three ways

  1. You put less force through the joints- knee, ankle and lower back
  2. you recruit the hamstrings and glutes in tandem with your quads and hip-flexors
  3. because you are recruiting more muscle groups it is more tiring! So you work harder.

Try and introduce it into your warm-up routine; find a clear stretch of grass of about 50 metres long and run backwards with a long gait and then jog forward back to your starting point. Repeat it 10 to 15 times.

Also try and introduce a few runs at the end of your training session for recovery, shorten your run and do 5-10 repetitions. Cool down and stretch.

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