The Elite Athlete’s Profile
By Tony Veney
Don’t let the word “Elite” put you off first of all. Whether your girl can run 11.85 or 13.22 in the 100 meters, or your 400 meter boy runs 48.00 or 54.00, the attitude of being great and expecting greatness covers everyone who runs this sport. The ability to accept personal inconvenience is critical to every athlete seeking to fulfill their genetic potential. The following “Got To’s” make up the E.A.P.:
- Know the price of success and remain prepared to pay a little more each year (success has an inflated price tag AND NEVER EXPERIENCES A RECESSION).
- Greatness requires you to ask more of yourself than your coaches ask of you. All too often we want it more than they do, or they push themselves because they like/respect us. But what happens when they don’t like/respect us anymore?
- Liberate yourself from your peers that don’t share your vision: satisfaction with mediocrity is deadly.
- Be prepared to step outside the norm or the usual and be someone special. I have a girl who this year dropped her 100 meter from 13.00 to 12.85 and she believes it’s because she has not missed a day of practice after having missed 12 days last year.
- Believe you are special – people like you do what only five percent of the planet can do. That’s why there are more in the stands than there are on the track.
- It’s your responsibility to come to track prepared for a great performance by presenting a body and mind that is well rested, well fed, well hydrated and thirsting to make someone’s life miserable (not the coach).
- Lead the way to a superior performance. Regardless of your team rank, be a leader. Demand the best from yourself at practice, at the meets, in the classroom and at home.
- What does not kill you…………KILLS THEM! The slackers will want you to slack off so they don’t look bad. What kills them is your refusal to follow their lead or give a rip when they criticize you for doing everything the coach wants you too.
- Don’t hang on some else’s expectations.
- Be able to turn your back on those who do not share your vision, or do not want to pay the same price you are willing to invest.
- Fight like Grim Death.
- If you’re going to be a practice/competition front runner, then you must turn your back on the crowd: it exposes your back to criticism and ridicule from the chase pack, but positions you one step closer to the finish line than they are.
- They only give three medals: Yours and what’s left. That’s a killer attitude. If there are 9 in the race…………………………..Beat 8!
- If it ain’t broke……………………………..BREAK IT!
Buy in and sell out!
Don’t Miss Tony Veney’s: Complete Hurdle Training
Most high school athletes have no idea what to do to get noticed by college coaches. Too many people falsely believe that if they have good performances, coaches will automatically figure out who they are and recruit them.
But, that’s not how it works. You have to actively market and promote yourself in order to rise above the masses. Because the truth is, unless you’re making the final at Nationals, in the big picture you are a dime a dozen.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
When I was in high school I set the MA D2 Championship Meet Record in the 400. My high school PR was 48.8 (not bad for New England in the mid 1990s). I even got a scholarship to run at UConn, which was/is the top of the ladder here in New England.
And I thought I was pretty sweet.
Until I got to the first day of practice and realized I was the #5 *Freshman* 400 runner on the team. In my little world I was pretty good. In the real world, I was just another high 48. kid. I was a dime a dozen.
Coaches live in the real world.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you want to get noticed, the best way to do it is to get in front of the coaches of schools you might be interested in. If you’re interested in competing at the next level, there’s an easy way to get in front of these coaches.
Go where they are. That starts with attending the 2013 Complete Track & Field Clinic.
After all, who do you think they are more likely to respond to: The athlete they saw and spoke to in person at the clinic or the one who filled out a questionnaire like every other potential recruit on the planet?
Here is a list of college coaches we have teaching at the clinic this summer.
Kebba Tolbert – Harvard University
David Cusano – Wheaton College
Gabe Sanders – Boston University
Marc Mangiacotti – Harvard University
Mat LeMaire – College of the Holy Cross
Howard Powell – Williams College
Ron Grigg – Jacksonville University
Reuben Jones – Columbia University
Moose Akanno – Dartmouth College
Rob Whitten – University of Rhode Island
Kathrine Bright – Wheaton College
Andrew Dubs – Harvard University
Michelle Eisenreich – Stanford University
Jason Saretsky – Harvard University
Of course, you can do nothing this summer and hope you get noticed.
You can go to one of those clinics where all the coaches work at the same school. Perfect if you only want to go to one school and you know you’re going to get in.
You can go to one of those clinics that has a lot of clinicians who won Olympic Medals. They have great stories to tell. But, Olympians don’t coach themselves, so you’ll mostly just walk out of there with stories, not new skills.
Or you can come to a clinic with a wide range of coaches working from D1 to D3 who have proven they know how to make athletes better.
I know where I’d want to be.
See you this summer!
Quick tips to make the Olympic lifts better for your athletes
By Wilson Fleming
The Olympic lifts are the most complex moves to do in the weightroom. Great lifters spend years and years on technique and train exclusively in this sport. For most of the athletes that I work with, this is not the case, they Olympic lift (Clean, Snatch, Jerk) with me 2-3 times a week and if they are in a high school program they may do the clean 1-2 times a week as well. With a basic program they are getting possibly 15 sets of Olympic lifts per week. While this is a decent amount of volume, it is not quality volume. Time spent with me then is aimed at working on developing proper technique to apply either at their high school or down the road in their training with me.
I use a lot of coaching points to have my athletes get better at the lifts but I wanted to make a list, so here are my top 6:
1. Turn your elbows out.
When holding the bar at the start position, in the hang or on the floor have the athlete turn their elbow straight to the outside. The natural way to hold your elbows will be facing backwards, this becomes a problem during the fast pull above your knees, as this natural position will keep the bar away from their body. Elbows behind the bar will make the bar get away from your body. By turning your elbows out you will be able to keep the bar close to your body during the pull. The goal of the pull portion of the clean is to be efficient and powerful, elbows out handles the efficient part.
2. Go Slow off the floor.
To get the most out of your cleans athletes have to go slow off the ground. The temptation when pulling from the ground (in a clean or snatch) is to pull the bar quickly and be aggressive from the start, instead of helping you lift more weight this actually makes it more difficult to pull the bar fast when above the knees. When an object is moving at a fast rate it is harder to put more force into it, so if the bar is travelling quickly from the start it will be difficult to make it go faster above the knees. Basic physics type stuff, but so often this is not applied. So be patient and go slow from the ground, when the bar gets above your knees then try to move it quickly.
3. Draw it out.
A big problem for most athletes is the position that they catch the bar. When weight gets on the bar athletes have a tendency to revert to the first form they ever thought of, in a lot of cases this means feet wide and hips forward of the bar. To combat a bad catch position I like to draw the proper foot positions on the floor. Basically, it is 2 intersecting rectangles that mark the foot position at the start and the foot position at the finish. Lifts where the feet finish in the wrong position mean that the athlete has to go down in weight This visual cue is perfect at giving the athlete almost immediate feedback about the quality of the lift.
4. Practice parts of the movement.
A lot of coaches program pulls of some sort or another usually ending in an explosive shrug at the top (these are great) or (gasp) a high pull, but I like to program specific portions of the movement that give athletes trouble. Specifically Clean pulls to the knee.
Coming off the floor is usually a trouble spot for most athletes, it is definitely a time that the bar can easily get in the wrong position. Doing a clean pull to the knee can help athletes learn the right pattern to coming off the floor i.e. extending the knees while bringing the chest up at a similar rate. Don’t be fooled, coming off the floor with a deadlift is not the same as bringing a bar off the floor in a clean or snatch.
5. Do lift combinations
When working on an aspect of the technique of cleans consider doing lift combinations. Combinations are things like: one clean pull followed by one hang clean or one Romanian deadlift and one hang clean. These types of lifts can make sure athletes get in the right position and reinforce good technique. By doing one portion of the lift followed by the entire lift athletes are able to repeat the pattern and focus on something, hip extension, proper start position. One thing to be careful of is to keep the repetitions low on combinations, athletes are really doing 2x as many reps as it says on your workout!
6. Catching snatches
It typically takes a leap of faith on the part of the athlete to “catch” the snatch overhead. We are asking them to connect the dots in a way that they have never before. A great drill to improve your athletes snatch is the “Snatch Balance”. The snatch balance is great at getting athletes accustomed to the timing of an aggressive punch overhead while simultaneously re-setting their feet to an appropriate width.
The snatch is all about timing and…Practice. Snatch balance is a great tool to practice one of the most difficult aspects of the snatch.
Adding each of these pieces will help to get your athletes better at the Olympic lifts. Be careful not to overwhelm your athletes with new parts and technique points, 1 thing until perfected is much better than a lot of things done just okay.
A 10-14 day Taper within the Context of the Program: The BU 4×4 experience.
By Gabe Sanders
March 2nd and 3rd, 2013 will forever be one of the most memorable in Boston University Sprinting history. On the very same weekend both the Men’s and Women’s 4x400m relay teams scored school record performances, with the women’s walking (more like running!) away with a new record of 3:47.14 and the men’s team not only coming away with a school record, but also the fastest relay time of any team/school in the New England Region in history with a time of 3:08.41. The days leading up to these remarkable performances were filled with a great deal of anxiety and excitement. This excitement came not with a “fingers-crossed” mentality, but with one knowing that the ground work had been laid and the appropriate finishing touches were exercised. Those finishing touches are/were the 10-14 day taper put in place and that ground work was the overall program which dictated what the taper called for. The following is BU 4×4 tapering experience and how it fit perfectly within the context of the whole program.
Before going into great detail, below are the approximate days leading up the momentous for the 4×4 teams and a few side notes.
*Days highlighted are what I felt were key components in 1) The final preparation for optimal performance, and 2) practical indicators for potential competition outputs. Another, simpler way to put it, they are what I consider true bench mark workouts for 400m athletes.
*Below are the main bodies of the practice sessions. There were/are key nuances within each day through warm up modalities, cool down modalities and other auxiliary components.
*Weight training was indeed taking place twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays through competition with a high intensity, low volume theme including a single Olympic movement exercise and single core lift exercise (form of squat).
*LS – Long Sprinters; SS – Short Sprinters; M – Men; W – Women
*Numbers correlate to days leading up to final performances
*3/2/13 – 3:08.41 (Splits of 47.7-46.0-46.7-47.8) – Boston U Men’s 4×4 School Record; All New England Area Record
*3/1/13 – Men – 3:11.64 (qualified for IC4A final) / Women – 3:47.14 (Splits of 57.3-55.7-57.0-56.9) – Boston U Women’s 4×4 School Record
- All: 3 x 30-40m Block Starts
- Shake out – Warm Up, go home
- LS: 3 x 150m @95+% w/full recovery (approximately 15 minutes); SS: 80-100-120 @95+% w/full recovery (approximately 15 minutes)
- Shakeout – 6 x 50m strides
- All: 2 x 30, 2 x 40, 2 x 60 Block Starts
- Full Rest
- 3:09.45 – Boston U Men’s 4×4 School Record / 3:48.12 – 3rd best time in Boston U Women’s history, ECAC qualifying mark
- 3-5 x 30-40m Block Starts
- Massage / Shakeout – 6 x 50m strides
- 10. M-LS: 320m Time Trial; 15 min Rest; 200m; M/W-SS: 180-150-120 @98% w/full recovery; W-LS: 3 x 150m @95+% w/full recovery
- Massage / Shake out – Warm Up, go home
- LS: 3 x 30, 3 x 60, 450m@85-89%, 2 x 200@85%; SS: 3 x 30m, 3 x 60m, 2 x 150m Build-up
- Full Rest
- 14. LS: 6 x 250m @90+% of 400m race pace, rest: 3 min; SS: 3 x 3 x 150@90% or 400m race pace, rest: 90 sec/6 min.
The first thing I would like to point regarding the set up is the emphasis on a very high/low pattern of intensity combined with a overall lower (emphasis on lower, NOT low) volume of work throughout this period. One area that must remain constant in training so that it truly reflects the time of year is the intensity level. During this time of year, the true competitive and championship peaking season, resting and recovering from hard training sessions, even those with a low dose of activity is critical to optimal performance. With recovery being a key theme while training intensity still remaining high, the premium variables affecting this are:
A) The overall volume of training
B) The density of training. That is, how frequently you are prescribing specific training intensities.
C) The consistency of training stimuli during this period
With that being said, I try to stay away from activities or training patterns that might make the athletes tired and/or sore for more or less the only reward being making the athletes tired and/or sore! In most all cases this would come from a high overall volume, a high density of training, and brand new training modalities!
At this point leading up to key competitions at the end of a season we must understand the fitness and speed levels for the most part are set. In my mind the final weeks and days leading up season ending performances are not the cause of those performances but instead act as the catalyst that allow all the work put in to come out to fruition. For instance, if you have not done an adequate amount of true speed and speed-endurance work, a single session of 3 x 150m at 95+% with full recovery will not make up for that, but from both an energy system and a CNS priming stand point for a 400m sprinter, this session can act as the perfect final tune up for an upcoming key or primary competition.
RELATED VIDEO: Answers to Popular 400M Training Questions
I’m sure many of you have asked yourself, “So why a tapering blog now in the beginning, headed towards the middle of the season?” If you are to take anything at all away from this entry, it’s that your tapering process is a direct result of every aspect you have completed in training up until a couple weeks out, so now we a given a whole new perspective on “work now with the end in mind!”
Benchmark Sessions (and how they fit the context of the program):
Benchmark sessions should be a reflection of the specific demands of the event you are tapering for. For example, there are vastly differing demands between the 100m and 400m events. While both events have a very high neural demand, there is a very low dependence on energy system demands in the 100m dash, whereas in the 400m dash there is a larger energy system demands based on the extended time frame of the event. Benchmark session within one’s own program should also a reflection of the training modalities that have been in place for the entirety of a program. Introducing new training concepts or technical components in the weeks leading up to final championship competitions can have disastrous effects, severely negatively affecting performances. Instead, these sessions should have the goal of stabilizing and finalizing key performance and technical parameters that have been set up through the body of your program up to this point.
A Benchmark Session Example: 6 x 250m @90+% of 400m race pace, 3 x 3 x 150@400m race pace
In our 4x400m relay training group our first benchmark sessions was 6 x 250m efforts at approximately 90% of 400m race pace with 3 minutes rest for the ‘true’ 400m athletes (long sprinters) and 3 sets of 3 x 150m efforts at approximately 400m race pace with 90 seconds rest between efforts and 6 minutes between sets for 100m/200m athletes (short sprinters) who were also in the relay pool. I’m a big fan of intensive tempo run use for 400m athletes as an anaerobic capacity/lactate tolerance developer. When prescribed in the right manner with timing and application, intensive tempo runs can actually “bleed” (credit to my friend and colleague Matt Gardner for terminology) into the realm of speed/special endurance type work. How so?
I asked my athletes to focus on hitting 200m splits that were in the range of 80-85% of their approximate 200m fitness and continue/maintain pacing through 250m. For the men, this ended up averaging out to 25.3 seconds for each rep with a slow rep of 25.7 and fast rep of 24.6. For the women this averaged out to 30.4 with a slow rep of 31.5 and a fast rep of 29. Where does the bleed into speed/special endurance come into play with a workout focusing on 80-85% of max efforts? If you take a step back and look at the broad picture of this workout, these athletes were able to accomplish 1500m of total work averaging over 90% of goal 400m race pace in approximately 15 minutes. This physiological (and psychological!) place these athletes were put in created a state that could be nearly unmatched by anything short of an actual 400m race effort while still gaining a large bang for one’s buck stabilizing very specific 400m race/event qualities of lactate capacity and tolerance. This session can actually be even more challenging with a smaller recovery window (all the way down to 90 seconds) which I intend to administer later in the outdoor season when there has been a larger training window.
For the short sprinters that were in the relay pool (one male and one female) that may have a more challenging time with the effort distances and rest intervals, the same goal can be achieve by toying with both variables, in this case shortening interval distance and rest periods, thus you have 3 sets of 3 x 150m @ 400m race pace. I asked them to give me 85-89% 150m efforts over the course of the workout. For the male sprinter this came out to approximately 17.5 second efforts and the female 21 second efforts. Again, much like the 250m session these athletes were able to accomplish 1350m of total work averaging their goal 400m race pace in 450m segments in 3 total minutes and 15 minutes for the full session. *These athletes went on to split 46.7 seconds and 55.7 seconds.
These sessions are not ones that were picked out of thin air but were built up to through the training year. We have completed sessions throughout the year of repeated 200m efforts ranging from 16 x 200m @65-70% with 90 seconds – 2 minutes rest, 8 x 200m @80% with 3:30 minutes rest, and 6 x 200m @85+% with 5 minutes rest. The athletes were very accustomed to sessions similar to this and in turn it was not necessarily a “shock” to their systems that they would cause a negative adaptation (either not able to functionally accomplish session and/or taking too much time recovering from brand new stimulus) but more of a “challenge” to their systems that would encourage a positive training adaptation.
A Benchmark Session example: The 320m Time Trial with a 200m secondary effort
Later in the tapering process our final benchmark session was a 320m time trial followed up by a single hard 200m effort exactly 10 days out from the goal performance date. The goal of this session is to finalize and stabilize the absolute speed endurance nature of the 400m race with a secondary aspect of repeatability. The nature of 320m allows for a near all out race effort without the total unforgiving aspect of the anaerobic point of no return involved in running efforts beyond 300m. That extra 20 meters takes the athletes just to the red line point of TRUE race simulation. In my experience, and in the experience of many of my colleagues, as a performance indicator higher level athletes can translate a 320m time trial by adding approximately 10-11 seconds and 12-13 seconds for women to achieve their predicted 400m race time while athletes on the lower level end of the spectrum are closer to 12-13 seconds for men and 14-15 seconds for women. The secondary hard effort of 200m comes into play to help indicate “round readiness”. That is, can an athlete duplicate their speed abilities over a given period of time? Another, simpler phrase could be an indication of repeat sprint ability. The top athlete in my training group was able to achieve a 320m time of 35.7 seconds with a secondary 200m time of 22.0 seconds. He went on to run 46.85 and 46.82 seconds in the open 400 and split exactly 46.0 seconds in our school record relay.
For a fun trivia fact, the fastest session on record is that of indoor 400m record holder Kerron Clement, who 10 days prior to his world record run of 44.57 seconds ran 320m in 34.4 seconds and 12 minutes later ran 200m in 20.4 seconds! WOW!
Notes on the Athletes
While at face value the mark of 3:08.41 seconds for the men’s team may be a superior mark (ended up being exactly .57 seconds away from NCAA qualifying) to the women’s mark of 3:47.14, I am in no way being politically correct when I say I am equally proud of both groups. Both are school record marks and both groups of athletes put just as much time, energy and group effort into these achievements. If you get into more of the background of the athletes, you may be even more impressed with the accomplishment of the women’s team. While each individual member of the men’s team were very highly touted athletes coming out of high school, and to date 3 out of the 4 have been nationally ranked in individual sprinting events, the women’s team was comprised of a group walk-on athletes that entered college with a single 400m best of 57 seconds. The next was 58.8, and the final two were a 16 second 100m hurdler and a 12.4 100m runner! In the set up you can see the women’s relay pool did not perform the 320m time trial, that group had not yet qualified for the ECAC Championship meet and I felt the need to be sure the team felt extra fresh going into their initial post season competition. I felt confident enough that their training up to that point would see them through and my bet paid off!
They were able to achieve the qualifying standard and still maintain peak form going into the championships the following week, reaching higher heights and a brand new school record!
The point I am getting at is that the training set up for all of these athletes were very similar in nature and for some identical. The key was the proper build throughout the entire process and at the end setting everyone up to put all their hard work to the forefront. In this case our tapering process seemed to truly let everyone shine!
I’m sure there will be plenty of questions for the rest of the tapering set up presented, and I welcome all inquiries! Best of luck the rest of the season in setting up your taper!
Follow Coach Sanders on Twitter @CoachGSanders
A Guide to Handling Hamstring Injuries for the Coach
Hamstring injuries are probably the most troubling of all typical track and field injuries. The frequency with which they occur, their debilitating nature, combined with the fact that they seem to strike when least expected and at the worst times make them the most frightening of all injuries. In addition to this, hamstring injuries are also the most misunderstood injury in track and field. This often results in misapplied rehabilitation procedures. In this article we will attempt to establish a fundamental working knowledge of hamstring injuries. We will use some simplified anatomy and to explain the mechanisms that cause these injuries and voice some common sense injury management guidelines for the coach who must operate without great medical resources at hand.
Hamstring Injury - Symptoms of Other Problems
Hamstrings are placed anatomically in a risky position, they readily receive stresses from above and below. In fact, practically all hamstring injuries result from dysfunction elsewhere in the body. The human hamstrings serve the same purpose as the “Check Engine” light on your car. The light indicates that there is a problem somewhere, but the reason the car won’t run right is never the light. Hamstring problems indicate trouble somewhere, but almost never is the hamstring itself the root cause.
It is true that hamstrings might appear to be weak, even to a good therapist. However, runners use the hamstrings so much that the idea of a weak hamstring is preposterous and shouldn’t even be considered in the diagnosis stage. The idea of doing extra hamstring exercises to strengthen the hamstrings sounds like a good idea to the unsophisticated, but any experienced track coach knows it never works or helps. Hamstrings might appear to be weak, but this results from altered neurology or because the hamstrings are placed in a disadvantaged position as a result of trouble elsewhere. In my career I have seen dozens of hamstrings test weak, then test strong only 3-4 minutes later after the work of a skilled therapist who knows how to restore proper neurology and relieve pressure on the region. If the hamstrings were truly weak in the first place, they wouldn’t be strong few minutes later.
Finding the Cause
For these reasons, dealing with a hamstring injury implies two tasks. Not only must the injury be dealt with, but the cause of the injury must be found. If you don’t fix the cause then then rehabilitation will progress slowly at best. Often the injury will reoccur. Fortunately, the underlying causes of most hamstring injuries typically fall into a few categories.
Cause 1: Diminished Range of Motion in the Ankle
Displacement of the talus often occurs in track and field, resulting in impingement and decreased range of motion in the ankle. Specifically, the ability of the ankle to dorsiflex is limited. This can be easily diagnosed by forcing the ankles into dorsiflexion and comparing the two… any discrepancy in the degree of dorsiflexion between the ankles indicates a problem (unless they both have the same problem!) In this syndrome the tibia-fibula complex becomes fixed at its lower end, and the body reacts by making it hypermobile in the upper end. This subjects the hamstring to unusual stresses. This is a frequent cause in most lower to middle hamstring injuries. The solution here is adjustment of the talus, so a chiropractor must be sought, preferably one who uses Gonestead techniques. Although I am not advocating you doing anything you are not licensed to do, this condition is so common that many elite level track coaches regularly perform this adjustment themselves on their athletes.
Cause 2: Anterior Tilt of the Pelvis
If the pelvis is rotated forward into a position of anterior tilt, stresses are directly transmitted to the hamstrings. This problem commonly takes the appearance of a “butt-out posture”, with a more pronounced lumbar curve or swayback. Sometimes the problem is subtle and not easily observed. Athletes who show these types of postures when running and jumping are inherently inefficient, and the odds of hamstring injury increase dramatically in these cases. Anterior tilt of the pelvis can result from a number of subfactors.
Lumbar Tightness. Tightness in the lumbar spine places the hamstring in a compromised position because it alters the alignment of the pelvis, producing anterior rotation. Active release techniques and training adjustments are needed in this case. If this is the case, old-school low walks or duck walks are a very good rehabilitation tool because they provide a strengthening environment that rounds the lumbar spine. This problem is usually associated with some error in the training program. Improper or excessive squatting or plyometrics is a common cause. Too much overdistance running can produce tightness and is a likely cause as well.
Hip Flexor Tightness. Tightness in the hip flexors and rectus femoris results in decreased ranges of motion in the hip extension movement. The body inherently senses the need to overpush, the symmetry of the running cycle is destroyed, and the hamstring is apt to blow. This tightness often goes hand in hand with lumbar tightness, contributing to produce anterior pelvic tilt. Again, active release technique and training adjustments are needed in this case. The culprit is usually too much concentric hip flexor/quad work. Remember that track athletes use the hip flexors so much that they are already highly trained, extra hip flexor work often causes problems.
Improperly Taught Techniques. Anterior tilt of the pelvis is not always a result of overtraining, improper training design, or pathological causes. The ability to achieve a neutral, correct position of the pelvis while running is a skill that must be taught. Common technical culprits that produce these symptoms are incomplete pelvic angle progressions in the drive phase of sprint races or jump approaches, bending at the waist in hurdle takeoffs, and toe-first penultimate steps or plants in jumping activities.
The “Grabbing” Hamstring. Often we hear athletes complain about a grabbing sensation on the hamstring. The hamstring is basically pain free except at certain instances where the grabbing is felt. I typically handle these by sending the athlete to the doctor. In these situations only a few fibers may be torn, and the grabbing sensation is results from the surrounding fibers contracting to protect the injury site. In these cases it seems the body often doesn’t really recognize injury and an injection might be needed to spur the healing process.
Prevention. A big part of hamstring prevention is observation. Close observation of athletes during warmup and running activities should be an ongoing process. Decreases in range of motion, loss of symmetry in motion, or gait changes can all signal causes of hamstring injury and the need for action.
Functional Pain Free Movement. The theme of rehabilitation should be functional locomotive exercise that is pain free. This gentle exercise limits scar tissue formation.
No Stretching at the Injury Site. Static stretching seems to accelerate the inflammation process and causes a two week injury to last months. It’s a favorite activity of hamstring patients though because of the relief they feel afterwards. However, the relief felt from stretching results from the deadening effect on the proprioceptors, and is only temporary. Delay resumption of static stretching at the injury site as long as range of motion is improving. Tension caused the injury in the first place, so beware of indiscriminate applications of tension in rehabilitation.
Stretch Surrounding Areas. Stretching is applicable to surrounding muscles and muscle groups in order to prevent the placement of chronic tension on the injured muscle.
Functional, Locomotive Rehab. As soon as the patient can move about, rehabilitation must be functional and locomotive. Leg curls and similar exercises are a waste of time unless the injury is so bad the athlete can’t walk. RDLs, squats, and other such exercises may place excessive tension on the muscle, resulting in the same problems noted above.
The Rehabilitation Plan
Here is a basic plan for hamstring rehabilitation. It’s safe and effective and simple enough to help the coach who might not have access to medical resources. Each day, the athlete does 12×60 meters, progressing as possible over time through the exercises listed below, and progressing patiently enough to keep things pain free. On day one get the athlete walking, a day or two later jogging, etc.
2. Easy Jogging
5. Straight Leg Bounds
Altered Training. Any other components of the training program that can be executed pain-free can and should be continued as normal. Other activities can be modified slightly to keep the movement pain free. The hamstrings are involved to a greater degree in horizontal movement than vertical movement, so altering the plyometric program to feature vertical jumping exercises often enables plyometric training to continue nearly uninterrupted and is a good way to continue to involve high speed, explosive training in the program.
Want more Boo? Don’t miss his Complete Program Design for the Jumping Events!