The following is part 2 of a multi-article series on the recovery, rehab and prevention of one of the most frustrating and debilitating injuries in sport: the pulled/torn hamstring. I’ve experienced more of these than I’d like http://www.dungeonstrength.com/track-and-field/hamstrung-part-2-48-hours-later/ http://www.dungeonstrength.com/track-and-field/hamstrung-part-1-ohhh-sht-now-what-immediate-care-for-the-pulled-hamstring/ (let’s just say going from no problems to having 4 major pulls in 10 months and a number of more minor injuries will provoke some research into the topic), and I want to give you a guide for what has worked best for me and what you need to do to get back on track/field/court/etc.
See parts 1 and 2 by clicking the links below:
Hamstrung part 3! Getting closer… finally.
At this point in the timeline there isn’t necessarily a set number of hours or days that you’ll begin step 3. This is dependent on the severity of the injury and will based on individual healing rates.
The good news is, if you’ve been following this protocol (parts 1 and 2) you’re probably doing a whole hell of a lot better (faster) than you would otherwise.
As a general rule, start step three when swelling is gone and the injury site is no longer tender to light self massage. If you’re bodyworker really went to town on you, this should be at least 2-3 days following that appointment.
In general, no sooner than a week (this would be for only the least severe injuries) to two weeks following the injury. Once again, this will need to be adjusted if you’ve had a SERIOUS tear.
Use common sense and be SMART. Trust me, heal it once and heal it right or you’ll be dealing with crappy hammies all season.
The main focus of step 3 is making your wimpy hamstring into an indestructible PORK CHORD of BEASTLY strength and speed.
On top of your “bridge” workouts listed in step 2 (the lifting, NOT the one-leg drills), you will add the following exercises to make sure your piggy strings are strong as hell for the road ahead.
Once again, if ANYTHING causes the “wrong” type of pain in the hamstring–STOP! By now you’ll know what that means. Getting stronger doesn’t mean a thing if you re-injure it in the process. BE SMART.
Step 1: Hip extension leg curls (with stability ball or towel on floor (tile/hardwood/etc.)
This video is a nice demonstration of this exercise on a stability ball, but it works just as well with a towel or t-shirt on a non-carpet floor. The key is to stay “bridged” the entire time and squeeze with those hammies!
Don’t overwork these, start 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps depending on how you feel.
As you get stronger, you can progress to one leg. Just don’t be an IDIOT and hurt yourself doing them!
Step 2: Glute-ham raises (done on a glute-ham bench)
You may not have access to one of these in your gym/weight room, so you may have to milk the hip extension leg curls for everything you can.
If you DO have access to one of these, set your heels to the lowest possible setting to make the movement as easy as possible when you first try them again. THESE SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AFTER YOU CAN COMPLETE THE HIP EXTENSION LEG CURLS FOR 3-4 SETS OF 15 REPS WITH EASE!!!
Control yourself on every rep and focus on completing PERFECT reps every time, do NOT let yourself “FALL” between each rep, you’re trying to strengthen the hammy NOT reinjure it!
See the video below for a demonstration of a good GHR (note: don’t use weights for these at this point in the recovery game, genius).
Step 3: Soft tissue work, Foam rolling/The stick
Since you probably don’t want to spend the cash on many more appointments at your bodyworker (if you do, then by all means, go for it!), you need to be taking care of some things on your own.
At this point, you should be safe with getting pretty aggressive with the foam rolling and work on the stick (check out the “Monster Stick” or the “Travel stick” along with other foam roll/recovery products here: http://www.flexcart.com/members/elitefts/default.asp?cid=143).
You can rub your piggy string out as much as you want, and should be doing so a few times a day. Don’t be lazy with this! Trust me!
Step 4: Maximizing recovery
If you want to get back on the field/track/etc. as fast as possible, you NEED to be taking care of your recovery. You need to rebuild and recover the screwed up muscles in your hamstring as fast as possible, and to do that you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and getting in your post-workout nutrition.
I recommend BCAA’s for muscle growth and recovery for any number reasons (increased muscle growth, decreased muscle breakdown, better endurance, better muscle retention when dieting, etc.) but there aren’t many situations where BCAA’s are more important, in my opinion, than when recovering from an injury.
Just in case you needed more reasons to use BCAA’s in your training and recovery:
- BCAA promote protein synthesis in muscle.
- BCAA taken during training have been shown to increase both growth hormone and insulin, thus increasing anabolism and anti-catabolism.
- BCAA have been shown to decrease post-workout soreness.
- BCAA have been shown to increase exercise endurance, especially exercise conducted in high temperatures.
- As little as 4 grams of BCAA can kick start the body from a catabolic state to an anabolic state.
BCAA’s are one of the most researched supplements in the world, and one of the few things I feel comfortable using myself and recommending to my athletes.
If you’re going to purchase BCAA’s, I recommend going with a CERTIFIED company that has regulated products like Prograde Nutrition. Otherwise you are literally guaranteed NOTHING when it comes to what’s actually in the bottle in the supplement industry.
So, hop on the recovery train, continue your soft tissue work, stretch the surrounding muscles, and turn your hamstrings into PORK CHORDS! In the next installment I’ll show you my favorite method for overnight hamstring recovery and we’ll actually get to SPRINTING again… safely.
Happy Mother’s Day!