Anyone who has been reading any of my recent posts will realise that I have been having some hamstring issues over the past couple of month. Like most runners I know, when you pick up an injury you are immediately looking for a quick fix/cure/magic, in order to maintain your training schedule.
Invariably we never find the 'magic cure' but it does not stop us looking. So I thought I would share some of the tid bits I have come across during my recent searches.
If you have read any athletics/running magazine over the last year or so you will have had it drummed into you that static stretching is no longer considered best practice.
Static stretching encourages the muscle to relax in order to create elongation. Because a static stretch is done passively, it may create an imbalance with the opposing muscle groups, making the muscle less sensitive to neural messages sent to it by the brain, which reduces its ability to generate force.
The type of stretching we should be doing is active or 'dynamic' stretching.
A dynamic stretch involves actively taking the muscle in and out of a stretch. This will lengthen the muscle, but also prepare it for quick / explosive activity. Therefore, training your hamstrings to stretch dynamically can greatly reduce the risk of tears and other injuries.
For example in the stretch shown the back is stable against the floor using the abdominal muscles and all the muscles of the legs, the gluts,hamstrings and quadriceps, are active to maintain the extension of the knees and to create resistance against the band. When the leg is brought towards the body, the hamstrings are elongated, but the opposing muscle groups are active and the spine and pelvis are stable.
Also quite a useful book I have come across is 'Sports Pilate's - How to prevent and overcome sports injuries' by Paul Massey. The book covers a variety of different sports, with specific exercises / preventative measures/ remedies for each sport. I have found the book to be detailed and well explained, with clear advice.