How to Avoid Hamstring Injuries

How to Avoid Hamstring Injuries
The hamstring is not a single muscle but rather a group of three muscles on the back of the leg running from the buttocks to the back of the knee. The hamstrings are easy muscles to ignore, and unfortunately they can be prone to injury if not taken care of. As with any body part, it's a lot easier and less painful to prevent hamstring injury than to treat it once it's occurred.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Warm up properly. Before running, climbing or any other activity that will tax the hamstrings, do a few minutes of brisk walking, light jogging or jumping jacks and some moderate stretching of all the muscles of the legs, hips and feet. Intense stretching isn't necessary and may even increase the risk of injury. See the References section for websites where you can find stretching instructions.
Step 2
Keep the hamstrings strong. Spend some time in the weight room doing dead lifts, leg curls and other strengthening exercises for the hamstrings. See the References section for ideas.
Step 3
Maintain flexibility. Adequate flexibility, not just in the hamstrings themselves but also in the quadriceps and hip flexors, will help keep hamstrings healthy. Try yoga once a week to improve allover flexibility.
Step 4
Avoid strength imbalance. Often the quadriceps are stronger than the hamstrings, especially in women. This can lead to improper stride mechanics and cause injury, not only to the hamstrings but also to the knees. In addition, if the gluteus muscles are weak, this can put unnecessary strain on the hamstrings when they have to compensate.
Step 5
Increase mileage and intensity gradually. A rule of thumb for injury prevention is to increase mileage no more than 10 percent per week. When increasing exercise intensity, start with short intense periods and increase gradually.
Step 6
Try backwards running. Short spells of backwards running can help correct strength imbalances, preventing injury to the knees as well as the hamstrings.

Article Written By Marsha Maxwell

Marsha Maxwell has been a professional writer and editor for since 1988. Her work has appeared in "The Valley Journals," "Classical Singer," "NetWare Connection" and Trails. She also teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. Maxwell has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Chicago.

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