Running With Richelle – Hamstring Strains

March 8, 2019

Hamstring strains can be tricky to resolve and they can return repeatedly if not rehabilitated correctly. Read on to learn what hamstring strains are, how to treat them and most importantly how to prevent them from reoccurring! So!


What is a hamstring?

The hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles that originate at your sit bone in your pelvis and travel down the back of your thigh, crossing the back of the knee to attach at the top of the tibia. The hamstrings work to extend your hips and flex your knees.

Causes of hamstring strains?

  • Too much too soon: Running injuries are often a result of increasing distance, intensity or hill training too quickly. If you ramp up your training too aggressively you may overload your muscles and tendons which can result in a variety of injuries including a hamstring strain.
  • Over striding: Runners who heel strike are overreaching which puts more strain on the hamstrings compared to those runners who midfoot strike.
  • Hamstring weakness: Poor eccentric control of the hamstrings will make them more vulnerable to injury.
  • Gluteal weakness: Your glutes and hamstrings work closely together. If your glutes are weak your hamstrings will work harder to compensate for them.
  • Limited hamstring flexibility: The hamstrings can often tighten in people who spend a lot of time sitting, for example those of us who have desk jobs. The repetitive motion of running can also cause the hamstrings to tighten, especially on runs with little variation such as on a treadmill or flat road. So those runners who have desk jobs are more susceptible to having tight hamstrings!
  • Lack of Warm-up: If you skip your warm-up, especially during a high quality run such as intervals or tempo running, you are at a much higher risk of injuring your hamstrings (and other soft tissues!)
  • Previous lower extremity injury: If you have rolled your ankle or injured your knee your hamstring may be working extra hard to try to stabilize that leg.

Treating hamstring strains


  • Cadence: Focus on a 170-180 cadence while landing on the midfoot. This will prevent over striding which will decrease pressure on the hamstrings. (See previous blog on cadence! )
  • Eccentric hamstring exercises: Lying on your back with your heels/calves on a stability ball lift your hips in the air. Bend the knees bringing the ball towards your hips then VERY SLOWLY straighten your knees with good control. As this gets easier you can progress to doing single leg eccentrics.
  • Strengthen your glute max and med muscles: (See previous blog on how to know your glutes are weak and how to strengthen them.)
  • Stretch your hamstrings: Do not stretch before you run as studies have shown static stretching before running increases injury rates. Stretch following your run by doing the following stretch on each leg. Hold each position 30-60 seconds without bouncing.
  • Do a proper warm up: Especially if you are doing speed work. Your warm up ideally should consist of jogging, high knees, bum kicks, skip steps and frankensteins.

If you try all the above tips and you are still experiencing hamstring pain it’s best to book an appointment with a physiotherapist to get a one on one assessment done. This may also involving taping, acupuncture and manual therapy.

As always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Posted in Uncategorized by Pat Moore