T Nation

Hams - The Missing Link

I have read many articles on hamstring training and used most of the multi joint ways of training them. I then tore
my hams (different legs) on 3 occasions whilst sprinting. After each time I noticed that I could still deadlift, squat and perform curls. The only exercise I couldnt do was back hypers since I felt pain in the area (2-3in above the knee and laterally). Probably wouldnt have been able to do glute-ham raise either.

This says to me that there is a potential missing link in ham training especially for those dynamic athletes ie. when the hams contract forcefully at both joints together.

Anyone any experience in this?

[quote]Rich Hand wrote:
I have read many articles on hamstring training and used most of the multi joint ways of training them. I then tore
my hams (different legs) on 3 occasions whilst sprinting. After each time I noticed that I could still deadlift, squat and perform curls. The only exercise I couldnt do was back hypers since I felt pain in the area (2-3in above the knee and laterally). Probably wouldnt have been able to do glute-ham raise either.

This says to me that there is a potential missing link in ham training especially for those dynamic athletes ie. when the hams contract forcefully at both joints together.

Anyone any experience in this?[/quote]

I hear what you are saying, but I can’t think of a sport where you forcefully bent your knee and extend your hip.

Are you sure its the muscle itself, and not possibly the tendon (s) in the area?

Its weird that you can both hip extend and knee flex, but when you maintain a static position it hurts.

Just a thought,

Pat

[quote]Rich Hand wrote:
I have read many articles on hamstring training and used most of the multi joint ways of training them. I then tore
my hams (different legs) on 3 occasions whilst sprinting. After each time I noticed that I could still deadlift, squat and perform curls. The only exercise I couldnt do was back hypers since I felt pain in the area (2-3in above the knee and laterally). Probably wouldnt have been able to do glute-ham raise either.

This says to me that there is a potential missing link in ham training especially for those dynamic athletes ie. when the hams contract forcefully at both joints together.

Anyone any experience in this?[/quote]

Sounds like you had a tear in the biceps femoris where the muscle becomes tendonous. I have suffered a partially torn hamstring and had the most trouble with hip extensions type exercises (ie glute ham, RDL’s, hypers). It’s the hip extension that will really fire up the hammies because you are creating more tension while lengthening the muscle (as in a sprint stride). The squats, deads and ham curls are all knee flexion movements and won’t put the same type of pressure on the muscle/tendon.

Well, what it is, is hip flexion is obviously occuring but knee flexion is really only static or with only slight movement.

In the sprint the knee is initially resisting extension on foot plant (therefore the knee flexors contract statically) and then it extends. The hip is obviously extending at this time.

The swing phase is where the ham is more prone to injury though. At the end of the swing phase the hamstrings contract at both the hip and knee to break the movement before the foot plant.

In the back hyper the hip extends whilst the knee flexors hold a fixed ‘bent’ knee position or even flex the knee slightly.

The injury is not of tendon origin, only muscle. This topic is the reason why the back hyper is possibly the most important ham weight exercise for sprinters along with the reverse hyper.

I would just like to hear some other experiences since I reckon this is a rarely discussed topic.

yeah this is an interesting topic…i’m not sure i have a good answer for you but 1-leg RDL’s could make a huge difference. Glute activation could also play a role here…

Before I started Oly lifting, back squats and SLDL would mainly work my glutes. Now, during a workout of say…snatches, snatch pulls, and back squats, my hammies are worked a lot more. I think the explosive pull of the snatch and snatch pull really demands a lot of the hammies. Then, when I do some squat variation afterwards, the hammies are somewhat fatigued so the glutes are going to have some strength left in them.

On the other side of things, I think I need to occasionally do squats on their own to make sure I am demanding enough of the powerful glute muscles.

A couple of thoughts.

#1) How do you know it is stricly a problem within the muscle and not the tendon? I only ask out of curiosity because wouldnt it reasons that, in the scenario you presented, the tendon itself would be more likely to “flair” up? In a back hyper, your isometrically curling into the pad while you extend, therefore oxygen supply is low. Tendons function of low blood/oxygen supply, therefore wouldn’t they be more apt to take over in this situation? Just a thought.

#2) Maybe the missing link, as you called it, is not actually in hamstring training. Maybe its further up the kinetic chain with your hips, not allowing you to decelerate properly causing a type of shearing force on the hammies during decel? Maybe, with the area you presented, it is an issue with your calves, and an inability to dorsi-flex freely when sprinting? I have had many ham injuries so this topic interests me, and the more I train the more I realize that the hams themselves were, for me anyways, not really the problem.

Just some thoughts,

Pat

Pat, through pyhsio intervention I realised it was muscle only and I have recently found out that the problem may be linked to a tight hip and neural impingement.

However, the intital observation still stands; that there are area/s of the hamstring that are only activated when the 2 surrounding joints contract together. Due to this I continue to make the back hyper (I dont have access to reverse hyper) my primary hamstring exercise. I also focus greatly on the squat and romanian deadlift.