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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: hamstring rehab

Many people suffer from chronic hamstring pain. The question is what is the root source the pain? As a seasoned clinician, I see many patients who present with pain in the upper hamstring/ischial region. Referral sources can include the low back, hip, SI joint, proximal hamstrings, gluteals, piriformis, and ischial bursitis to name a few. In some cases, the pain can be multi-factorial as I see some runners with low level discogenic (nerve) pain and proximal hamstring tendinopathy.  The sciatic nerve and its proximity with the hamstrings necessitates thoroughly vetting the symptoms and its pattern in each client.  Assessing SLR, slump test, reflexes, myotomes and dermatomes is a must.

Determining what the exact source of can be difficult and requires a good subjective exam and objective testing. For the purposes of this particular post, I am focusing on the proximal hamstrings themselves as the primary source of the pain, as I see so many who struggle with proximal tendinopathy who have seen many providers with little relief.

I treat many runners and middle aged adults who experience this high hamstring or buttock pain that is often worse with:

  • Sitting
  • Forward bending
  • Walking or running uphill

As with traditional hamstring strains, eccentric strengthening is a must for this population.  However, we must consider the myofascial component and contributions to this pain as well.  In many cases, these patients have ischial tuberosity tenderness. Consider the referral pattern of the medial HS illustrated below:

img_4157

I typically like to consider using hip and core strengthening, dry needling, IASTM, stretching and eccentric strengthening to address the pain.  If I feel the problem may include a sciatic nerve component and there is an extension bias, I will utilize some PA glides and extension exercises too.  In addressing this pain pattern, we must be thorough.

A 2014 case study published in JOSPT looked at a case study with two runners (71 and 69 y/o men) who were treated with eccentric exercises, trigger point dry needling and lumbopelvic stability exercises.  The rehab was phase based and the results are as follows:

Patient 1 was treated in physical therapy for 9 visits over 8 weeks. At discharge, he had achieved his goal of running 8 to 10 km 5 times each week pain free. An e-mail received 6 months following discharge noted that he had remained symptom free with all activity and that he completed a triathlon symptom free.

Patient 2 was seen in physical therapy for 8 visits over the course of 10 weeks and discharge were performed by the same therapist who performed the initial evaluations and oversaw each treatment.  He was discharged after running 30 km without symptoms and reporting significant decrease in hamstring pain. The patient was seen 6 months later in physical therapy for unrelated right shoulder subacromial impingement but reported no hamstring symptoms and that he had participated pain free in a marathon.

In my practice, I have found dry needling, heat and soft tissue work to be very helpful along with stretching and strengthening.  I like to use eccentric PREs and hip stability work to resolve proximal hamstring pain. Specifically, I have used the following two exercises with very good results:

Single leg RDL

Supine reverse hamstring curls using gliding discs

Both of these exercises are effective in promoting eccentric hamstring strength, hip stability, and improved hamstring mobility. Furthermore, they can be effectively used in rehab, rehab and training situations. I routinely use them in all of the above. For a more detailed explanation of the reverse curls, be sure to check out my upcoming Functionally Fit column at www.fit-pro.com.

Keep in mind that hamstring pain can be caused by one or multiple sources. It is best to seek a medical evaluation to determine the exact source of pain and address it safely and effectively. Exercises such as the ones demonstrated in this post represent a few options for addressing hamstring strains/tendinopathy. Others may include Nordic hamstring curls, prone eccentric hamstring curls and hamstring walkouts. Using manual interventions along with exercise is often effective in accelerating and optimizing full recovery.

Reference

Jayaseelan DJ, Moats N, Ricardo C. Rehabilitation of Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy Utilizing Eccentric Training, Lumbopelvic Stabilization, and Trigger Point Dry Needling: 2 Case Reports. J Orhtop Sports Phys Ther 2014 (44)3:198-205.

Well, Thanksgiving is upon us in 2011. I want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday. In today’s post I will review a November 2011 article in the American Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at the effect of the Nordic hamstring exercise on hamstring injuries in male soccer players.

For those not familiar with Nordic hamstring exercises, see the photo below:

nordic_hamstrings_182x130

In this randomized trial, the researchers had 54 teams from the top 5 Danish soccer divisions participate.  They ended up with 461 players in the intervention group (Nordic ex) and 481 players in the control group.  The 10 week intervention program was implemented in the mid-season break between December and and March because this was “the only time of the year in which unaccustomed exercise does not conflict with the competitive season.

The trial was conducted between January 7, 2008 and December 12, 2008 with follow-up of the last injury until January 14, 2009.  In the intervention group, all teams followed their normal training routine but also performed 27 sessions of the Nordic hamstring exercises in a 10 week program (as follows)

  • Week 1 - 2 x 5
  • Week 2 - 2 x 6
  • Week 3 - 3 x 6-8
  • Week 4 - 3 x 8-10
  • Weeks 5-10 - 3 sets, 12-10-8 reps
  • Weeks 10 plus - 3 sets 12-10-8 reps

The athletes were asked to use their arms to buffer the fall, let the chest touch the ground and immediately get back to the starting position by pushing with their hands to minimize the concentric phase.  The exercise was conducted during training sessions and supervised by the coach.  The teams were allowed to choose when in training it was done, but they were advised not to do it prior to a proper warm-up program.

And the results…..


Continue reading…

So, I have been swamped with work and marathon training, hence the recent delay in a new blog post.  Well, yesterday during a short 3 mile run (I am in taper mode with a 10/17 event) I experienced an acute left hamstring strain.

Hamstring strains are common and can produce incredible pain and limit function.  Most hamstring strains occur as the swing leg is coming forward and the knee is nearing full extension.  Essentially, it is a stretch type injury as the hamstring works to decelerate the momentum of the lower leg.

Injuries may be casued by inadequate warm-up, a sudden increase i training intensity/volume, fatigue, stiffness, weakness or muscle imbalances.  A prior injury may also increase your risk for re-injury.

hamstring

I have been running for years and am 5 months into my marathon training, so why now?  I honestly think it may be related to my speed yesterday.  My body naturally leans toward a 7:25 pace, but when I looked down at my Garmin yesterday at the point of pain, it said 6:54.  Yikes!  I was 1.25 miles into the short run.

I decided to keep running and slow my pace back to 7:30.  While I was able to complete the run, my lower hamstring was very tight and sore after the run.  Obviously, I have been icing regularly the last 24 hours.  No running today either.  I anticipate a quick recovery since the strain is mild and I am very fit.  But, what is the best way to prevent re-injury?

I have a quick article summary from the Journal of Sports & Orthopedic Physical therapy Journal for you to read that underscores how important functional movement rehab is in comparison to just static stretching and strengthening.

Click here to read the summary of the journal article

Now, with respect to running, agility may not be necessary.  Running is fairly linear (straight line) so what may be more important to gage capacity to return to running may be some of the following:

  • Absence of pain with active knee straightening
  • Absence of pain with walking
  • No pain with single leg hopping
  • Minimal to no muscle belly tenderness

In the end, you will need to let pain guide you.  Some will return faster than others, but inside of 21 days (the end of the subacute healing phase) you must be aware of the fragility of the tissue as it heals.  I am confident this will not derail my marathon, but the lesson learned is to watch your starting pace as it may lead to some muscle strain.