Workout Wednesday 1: Hamstring Strength for Runners
Things are going to change up a little bit around here. I am planning a new structure to things for 2017 based on reader feedback. The problem is, I don’t like waiting to start things, so I thought I would hop right in and start one of my new features NOW.
As I am developing skills in various sports, I am learning the importance of workouts, strength work and techniques in a wide range of sports like:
- adventure racing
- cross fit
You get the picture. There is a lot to learn and I thought I would use Wednesdays to share things I am learning as it pertains to each of these sports. I also will use this as a space to address some reader questions and I am happy to cover anything you want to see as well. (Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
For my very first feature, I wanted to talk about something that I have been dealing with since my off-season began in September. In my final adventure race of the year, there was a ton of bounding involved. Bounding up hills, bounding down waterfalls, bounding over wet rocks…you get the picture. As the race wore on, my right achilles began to let me know it was aware of the situation and it was not impressed.
Long story short, the proceeding events I competed in, I compensated, even though it really wasn’t necessary and I ended up with pain on the inside of my knees on both legs. What? Later, it settled into a bit of a pain in the back of right leg and a constant presence on the inside of my right knee. ANNOYING.
Turns out, it was tight hamstrings which is an issue I have been fortunate not to need to deal with until now. I worked with my coach and physiotherapist throughout my off season and he started me out with a plan that looks like this:
Basically, tight hamstrings are the result of weak glutes, something you hear over and over in the running world, so I focused on strengthening them up. So what does my workout look like?
Kettlebell swings – This is a great exercise for glute strength but you need to make sure you are using your hips and glutes, not your arms. Technique can be found here.
Four Point Squat – Kneel on the floor with hands and feet lined up. Feet should line up straight with the knees. Maintain arch in back and move hips back toward feet. DO NOT make direct eye contact while conducting this exercise.
Glute Activation Hold – I made this name up but I have no idea what on earth to call it. Take a 20-30 pound weight and kneel with your upper body straight, holding the weight behind your back and engaging your glutes. Hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
Squat – I am going to go out on a limb and assume you know how to do this one, but to keep proper form, I hold an unweighted bar over my head and squat only until my arms move forward to my ears and bring it back up to ensure I am recruiting my glute muscles. Make sure your knees remain stable throughout.
As you strengthen, make it single leg.
And you are done!
Here is the routine I normally do:
You can do it in one go or divide the workout into three so 10 kettle bell swings, 1 minute activation hold and so on.
To stretch your hamstring, follow these instructions here.
The good news? My issue has gotten much better and I am able to now run comfortably without interupting my training. If I skip the strength or stretching for a couple days, my body will remind me and as long as I stay on top of it, I am good to go!
These posts will be found under a new tab I will be creating called Workouts so you are able to come back and use them later if necessary. Next Wednesday, I will be answering a reader question on ultrarunning and strength. If you have something you want to be covered, just send me an email!
Do you have any hamstring exercises to share that I missed?