HEALTHY HAMSTRINGS: What, How, and Why
Many people can agree that performance happens from the “back-side” of the body. When relating this to sprinting performance, we’re talking about the glutes and hamstrings!
Eric Cressey once said “big muscles do big jobs” in one of the thousands of articles he has online. I’m not sure where it was from, but this still rings in my head and it still holds true.
One topic I wanted to bring up is hamstring health in baseball. How can we keep our hamstrings healthy?
We could sit here and talk “butt-stuff” but it’s 2018 now…let’s talk about the hamstrings!
Before we dive into how to keep your hamstrings healthy and how to relate this to performance, we should first understand the structure of the hamstrings.
Hopefully you noticed the “s” at the end of hamstrings. Yes, they are made up of multiple muscles.
Three, to be exact: the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris (long head).
These 3 muscles work together in ALL 3 planes of motion: sagittal, frontal, and transverse to aid in triple extension, the most powerful movement in the entire human body.
The hamstring muscle group are primary knee flexors and secondary hip extensors. This concept will become important later…
They originate from the pubis (your hips) and insert down to behind the knee. Do they ever feel tight? Do they ever feel sore? Do they ever feel weak?
Just like any other muscle in the human body, there are fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Your hamstrings are predominantly fast-twitch muscle bellies.
These questions yield different training modalities. Luckily for you, I’m covering all bases.
Eccentric Training Concepts
The hamstrings must be able to produce and REDUCE forces. Most hamstring injuries occur at the transitional point from lengthening to contracting. Therefore, we train all muscle actions.
2 position ISO BB RDL
Research has shown that focusing on the eccentric muscle action can reduce likeliness of injury, and increase hamstring eccentric strength.
According to the concept of specificity, if you want your hamstrings to be stronger at absorbing forces, then you must train them eccentrically. If you want your hamstrings to be stronger at producing force, then you must train them concentrically.
Concentric/Explosive Training Concepts
The hamstrings must be able PRODUCE a lot of force. As stated previously, the hamstrings are predominantly fast-twitch muscle fibers, so this is the preferred way to train them.
Banded Butt Kicks
RDL jump + tuck
SL RDL to Lunge
It’s important to understand that your hamstrings should always act as a hamstring. What is it again, you ask?
Primary knee flexor and secondary hip extensor. You PRIMARY HIP EXTENSOR is your GLUTE(s)! Injury is bound to occur when your hamstrings overpower your glutes during hip extension.
You want your hamstrings to be healthy, and would prefer not to tweak them when you’re showing all the college coaches how fast you are?
Train your glutes to be powerful hip extensors, not your hamstrings. Let those guys be responsible for absorbing all the force they produce.
Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS