The hamstring muscle group is undoubtedly one of the supporting elements of the leg, made up of the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris. These are also known as the posterior thigh muscles.
Talking about these muscles is useful firstly because this muscle group is involved in no small way in walking (in the first phase of support, for propulsion and during intermediate phases) and secondly because hamstring injuries frequently recur, often because we underestimate the rehabilitation (and extent!) of the injury, resulting in longer recovery times and frustrating periods of inactivity.
Should you injure your hamstring, entrust identification of the degree of injury, any instrumental examinations, physiotherapy, medications, strengthening, recovery times etc. to qualified professionals, respecting and listening to their opinion. Find a specialist your trust and stick with them during your recovery. Do not try and rush things.
Prevention is, however, better than cure to begin with. Not including the elements above that should only be assessed by trained professionals (e.g. posture, muscular imbalance and assessment of flexors/extensors), among the most common causes of injury are two practices that resistance runners do not much like doing: not stretching and poor warm-up. Often runners completely forego warm-up and stretching routines, which are actually essential.
Thinking about prevention, then, let’s start with warming up.
The winter season is now beginning and the cold is a runner’s worst enemy. This means you need to pay careful attention to strength preparation.
To activate your muscles, begin the session with 5 minutes at a very slow pace, before starting the actual warm-up, which should be 20 minutes, ending by gradually increasing your pace.
When it comes to stretching exercises, we are going to show you two very simple exercises, but for hamstring muscle reinforcement, which is a different thing altogether, refer to a physiotherapist. The exercises we are about to show you should be performed after a suitable warm-up.
1) Lie down on a mat. Put a rope around the sole of your foot and grab the two ends. Keep your knee straight and your foot at a right angle. Lift your leg towards the ceiling slowly and smoothly until you feel a stretch up the back of your leg. The first few times, hold for 10-15 seconds, but 30 seconds, then release your leg and repeat with the other leg.
2) Sit on the ground and spread your legs apart. Make sure you keep your knees straight and your feet flexed, as you did in the first exercise. Then, keeping your back straight, lean forwards slightly over your hips. You will feel tension in your hamstrings, hold it there for 30 seconds, then release and try to touch your right foot. The aim of the exercise is not to reach your foot, but just to create some slight tension in your hamstring and hold it for twenty seconds or so. Repeat for your left foot.