As runners we focus on our muscles and how we move. Sometimes some muscles or areas are neglected. Most common area that runners forget about are your hamstrings. Your hamstrings are one of three muscles that is along the back on your thigh. It is important to runners because it allows you to bend your leg at the knee! So FYI, we use it A LOT while running.
A hamstring injury is when you have either pulled or strained one of the three muscles in the Hamstrings group. It happens mostly in sprint running or anything kind of run that causes a sudden burst of speed. When you over stretch your hamstrings you can even tear it. Some can run “through the pain” as it can be a mild case, while at other times it can stop you cold.
CAUSES of a torn/injured Hamstring
- Sprinting, even long distance running
- Not having enough flexibility
- Your hamstring not being prepared for the demands of running
- A previous hamstring injury
- Weak or imbalanced muscles
- Sharp pain in the back of your thigh
- Popping or snappy feeling
- Pain in your hamstring area when you stand up straight or when you bend over
- Bruising in the back of your thigh
- Not being able to bear weight on your leg
As I said before, some runners run through a hamstring injury and continue on with minor discomfort. But if your pain is too severe, seeing a Doctor might be the best option. If you do decide to just “run through it” then run it at a lower pace, taking it easy so you don’t further aggravate or injure it.
- Start looking forward to some rest days! Giving your body time to heal is crucial, especially if this isn’t your first hamstrings injury. Taking time off running will help give your muscles the time they need to heal. Doing some cross training would be a better form of exercise.
- After consulting if its OK with your Doctor, taking an over the counter medicine like Ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Once your hamstrings are at a recovered level, there are things you can try to strengthen and keep your hamstrings running ready.
- KT Tape is also a great way to speed up recovery, and a great way to prevent further injury while running.
Using a foam roller is a great way to massage and release the tension you could have in your hamstrings. I use the foam roller every day to keep my legs loose. I also use it before a run, especially a long run to warm up the muscles and release the tightness that might appear after 8 miles running.
These are some of the different ways to foam roll your hamstrings. Some ways are more effective than others, find what is comfortable for you to help ease the pain. Of course after you have recovered and can handle weight on it and massaging it doesn’t cause a problem then foam rolling is a great way to keep that pain from coming back.
Stretching is also a great way to keep an injury away. Many runners stretch post run but forget to stretch one of the post important muscle groups, the hamstrings!!!
All these moves will help stretch and strengthen your hamstrings. Adding these to your daily stretches will help prevent injury and keep your hamstrings ready! If you’re pain is out of control, seeing a Doctor might be your best choice. If you are treating this injury yourself, (which minor hamstrings pain is) then I hope you find these tips useful.