Over the past few years I’ve seen a multitude of hamstring pulls and strains from elite professional athletes to very good scholastic athletes. In most instances there seems to be a common theme, structural imbalance, existing scar tissue, and a lack of strength in the hamstrings.
From an anatomical perspective the hamstrings are located on the back of the thigh and attach over the hips and over the knee joints. From a performance perspective, the hamstrings extend the hips and flex the knees.
First from a structural perspective the hamstrings have a synergistic relationship with the other muscle groups that are located near or adjacent or on the opposite side of the joint. So the muscles that attach over the front of the hip (hip flexors) have a relationship with those that attach over the back (hip extensors), the outside (hip abductors), and the inside (hip adductors).
This is important because those neighboring muscles act together to produce desired movement like sprinting, running, or jumping etc. When the hip flexors become tighter or stronger than it’s antagonistic neighbors the hip extensors, it will pull the hips forward and result in an alignment or imbalance issue. Like wise if the muscles that act to counter the excess forward tilt i.e., lower abdominals are unusually weak or dysfunctional, this further contributes to misalignment and structural imbalance. These imbalances may then cause excess strain on several muscle groups including the hamstrings. The tight muscles like the hip flexors will need to be stretched and loosened to help realign the hips.
Second there is usually scar tissue or adhesions in the hamstrings and it’s neighbors like the hip adductors and/or hip flexors. In part due to those muscles having to over compensate by assisting the hamstrings from the repetitive use and stress over time. This excess scar tissue will interfere with the proper function and recruitment of these muscles, which in turn produces more scar tissue. This may also shorten and make the muscle tight as well.
Third the hamstrings are usually weak in comparison to it’s neighbors. Since the hamstrings are part of the motor or engine, along with the hips, for those athlete’s who run, jump, throw, and sprint, they need to be strong. If you want to sprint you need a high performance engine aka, Corvette or Lamborghini or Top Fuel Dragster not a Civic or Smart car. In addition the hamstrings will help support the knee joint during planting, stopping, and changing direction, so they need to be dimensionally strong.
So if you want to reduce or minimize hamstring strains address the structural imbalance, scar tissue, and strength needs early on with a good pre-training assessment or evaluation to identify and optimize performance.
Posted by Mike Florio on March 26, 2010 9:05 In response to Thursday’s comments from Titans running back Chris Johnsonregarding an ongoing desire to race record-setting sprinter Usain Bolt, a source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Bolt’s representatives actively have been pushing the event.
Word of the race first emerged in early January, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bolt’s people and Johnson’s people were working toward setting up a race for charity. (We suggest calling it the “Usain Bolt Chris Johnson Dunder Mifflin Sabre Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For the Cure.”) Within hours, however, Bolt’s agent said “[t]here is no truth to the story,” and that Bolt “doesn’t follow the NFL too closely.”
So it was odd that Johnson said Thursday that he plans to race Bolt next year. But, apparently, talks indeed have occurred and continue to occur, notwithstanding the denials of Bolt’s agent, whose word on the matter was accepted as Gospel truth, possibly because agents have an impeccable reputation for honesty.
Per our source, the two sides have not been able to agree on a distance. Johnson presumably wants a shorter race, and Bolt wants a longer distance. The folks at NBC Olympics previously have determined that Bolt’s 40-yard split from his world-record time in the 100-meter dash during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing was “a hair slower” than Johnson’s 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. (end of article).
Okay, Wlit Chamberlain (basketball great) vs. Muhammad Ali (boxing great) in boxing or Larry Allen (NFL lineman great) vs. Hossein Rezazadeh (olympic weightlifting great) in the clean and jerk or Javier Gomez (triathlon great) vs Lance Armstrong (cycling great) in the Tour De France, come on! And I do do not mean any disrespect to any of these great athletes but each talent is specific, especially on a world class level. By the way neither would I reverse the likely hood of the underdog beating the favorite in their respective sports. It’s absurd!
Back in the 1971 their was talk and negotiations for Chamberlain to box Ali. Many athletes considered Chamberlain to be one of the strongest most versatile athletes in the world at that time (basketball, arm wrestling, volleyball, track, weightlifting, et) but getting in the ring with Ali would have been a foolish thing for Chamberlain, and he was fortunate to have someone like his dad and Jim Brown (NFL legend and great all around athlete) to talk him out of it, preventing him from going down in athletic history as the man who got beat up, knocked out, or made a fool of in the ring instead of being a basketball legend. Jim Brown knew since he dad challenged Ali himself. One morning Ali met Brown during his morning roadwork and Brown attempted to hit Ali with a flurry of punches and couldn’t , while Ali hit him at will, which convinced Brown how absurd it was!
I think Larry Allen is a great and future Hall of Fame football player and exceptional power lifter but I don’t think that he could come close beating Hossein Rezazadeh in the clean and jerk at 263.5 kg. Like wise, Javier Gomez is a great world class triathlete but I am willing to bet that he wouldn’t beat Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France! It’s facinating to read and hear about sports writers and enthusiast who embellish such non-sense.
According to The IFFA’s biomechanical analysis of Bolt’s world record 100m sprint, the split times (st) are as follows: reaction time (rt)=.146, 20m st=2.89, 40m st=4.64, 60m st =6.31, 80m st=7.92, 100m=9.58 seconds. If Chris Johnson said he could beat Bolt then he needs to start running to beat these times. I think that Johnson’s best High school 100m time is 10.38s. I thnk that he’s faster now so he needs to enter a race to get accustomed to the blocks, spikes, track, pre race pressure, reaction time (rt), start phase, drive phase, maximal acceleration phase, etc. Chris needs to race against other top sprinters from that race such as, Tyson Gay (rt=.144, 20m st=2.92, 40m st=4.70, 60m st=6.39, 80m st=8.02, 100m=9.71s, now his best is 9.69s) or Asafa Powell (rt=.134, 20m st=2.91, 40m st=4.71, 60m st=6.42, 80m st=8.10 , 100m=9.84s ) and Richard Thompson who had the best reaction time in that race at .119 and ended up with a 100m=9.93s. Chris could start with the USA Indoor Track and Field Championship series with the 60m, since that would give him a credible time.
Consider this, only 40 or so various sprinters have run sub 10 second 100m at meets in recorded history, with some of them running sub 10’s several times during their careers, Chris Johnson has not yet broken the sub 10’s barrier, until then it’s an absurd discussion. It’s like Bolt saying that he could break Johnson’s NFL records, with out putting in the time to have football skills…it’s absurd!
theredzone.org, Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports when it comes to evaluating talent in the draft, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is always quick to point out “the film doesn’t lie”.
On Friday on Dan Dakich’s show in Indianapolis, Lewis did chide those who go through unusual steps of preparing for the combine, saying that the way most go about it is “asinine”.The Bengals did show last year, with the selection of Andre Smith, that a disastrous combine won’t wreck their chances of being selected. And for that case, neither does the pro day.Among other things from the interview, courtesy of our friends at Sports Radio Interviews:
On players who leave school to workout and prepare for the Combine: “The other one that just kills me is that they spend three or four years with a strength coach on a college campus and as soon as the season’s over they go somewhere else to some guy who doesn’t know them from a hole in the wall and pay this guy a bunch of money. It doesn’t make any sense at all. It used to be that they had to pay for it and now it’s part of the agent deal. They’ve cultivated a whole industry out of it. It doesn’t make sense. It’s actually asinine that if I go to school in Florida, now I have to go to Arizona to train. If I go to school in Arizona, I have to go to Georgia to train. These guys have the best facilities and the best people working with them year round and now all the sudden they got to go somewhere else. You don’t need to go away. A football player is a football player.”
On how much stock he puts in workouts at the Combine: “The workout becomes a confirmation for a lot of players. It’s got to be judged individually with the player. The number one thing is what that guy has done on his college campus. So as these college players who are going to be underclassmen who may be listening to your show should know to take stock in what they do on the football field their – junior and senior – their last two seasons and not get all caught up in what this is.”
On what the NFL Scouting Combine is: “This is just a confirmation; that I can run. I weigh this much. I’m smart enough. I can carry on a conversation. I can learn. I can understand. And I’m a good person.”
I respect Marvin Lewis and agree with his opinion about the best current evaluation of a prospective football payer is their game film. Although you can always find exceptions to this with those players with little or no game film such as Willy Parker, Mike Lewis, and Ray Crittenden to name a few.
I also agree that many college strength programs are top notch and do a wonderful job at preparing athletes. Though I disagree with Marvin’s premise that athlete’s shouldn’t seek out additional help to increase their stock especially since with the current system there is so much money and opportunity involved.
First, most college football programs involve over a 100 athletes it’s difficult to address the specific needs of individual players or a select group each week while neglecting everyone else.
Second, those athletes may have specific needs involving strength, speed, power, mobility, flexibility, agility, nutrition, technique, structural integrity, soft tissue health, etc.From a logistical perspective most of these issues cannot get addressed per individual. Therefore a critical evaluation or assessment is vital.
Third, If any of these specific needs is not addressed the athlete will be at a disadvantage and unable to display their best performance on possibly their biggest stage. Unfortunately some of them go into the combine, pro-day, or camp ill prepared by innocently overlooking their specific needs and is released. Many do not receive a second chance.
Again most college strength coaches or programs by themselves do not have the resources or time to address this individually. So under the current system the athlete needs to do whatever is legally or ethically necessary to increase their opportunity.
Ground force or ground impact or ground stress from the foot strike when jumping, running, sprinting may vary greatly depending on the landing height or depth, running speed, and landing surface. In 2005 I was visiting the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto Canada, which had this facinating interactive sports science center for kids and adults. One of the venues involved a force platform on the ground and a 14-16 inch step. Each participant would step or jump off the step onto the force platform, which would display the force usually between 9-20 G’s or 9-20 times their body weight when landing. Which is pretty significant, a 150 lb person would land with 1,350-3,000 lb of force or stress. So consider this when playing a game of basketball or volleyball where you may jump from 12-24” multiple times during a game. The repeated stress would be in the tens of thousands of lb.
Now research has suggested that jogging produces 3-6 G’s while sprinting may produce 8-11 G’s of force, which translate into 450-900 lb or 1,200-1,650 lb of force per foot each time it lands on the ground for the 150 lb person. So if that same 150 lb person was playing a game of full court basketball 84’ x 50’ and ran up and down the court for 31.4 laps equals a mile at an average of 45 steps per lap or 20,250-40,500 lb of force-stress total. Whereas a world class 100-meter sprinter at the same weight might take 45 steps, which would equal 54,000-74,250 lb of force. Now obviously the basketball playing requires crosscourt and lateral movement as well but you get the point that I’m making. The basket may occur over 8-12 minutes while the 100-meter sprint happens in less than 10 seconds.
Now if you add 16 jumps to the basketball 21,600-48,000 lbs your force totals would resemble something like this: 41,850-88,500 lb of force-stress over the time range. These are accumulative forces-stresses may lead or contribute to a soft tissue injury or a stress fracture over time. The only way to allow the body to perform at either of these levels requires proper preparation and adequate recovery.
In the next article we will talk about preparation and recovery.
References: UDaily and University of Delaware; and Biomechanical Analysis of Fundamental Human Movement by Arthur Chapman
Olympic lifting! Olympic lifts and their variations such as the clean, clean and jerk, deadlift, jerk press, power pulls, snatch, etc are great exercises for athletics, fitness, and structural balance. When performed correctly they yield precise crossover results for jumping, power, speed, sports, and structural strength.
I see trainers and athletes performing them but with incorrect concept and technique that does something altogether different or that may lead to an injury.
You Tube has a few great instructional videos that explain the concept and correct technique. Please search these: Tommy Kono-former Olympic weightlifter, coach, and judge has a great instructional six part video and several others; Chad Ikei-former Olympic weightlifter and strength-performance coach has a two part series; and Cara Head-recently retired Olympic weightlifter has several training videos that shows great form and technique.
Lift safe, correct, and get results!
Fox Morning News with Holly Morris, featured cutting edge trends in training and weight management with James and Monica at Athletic Excellence in June 2005.
Athletic Excellence was featured in an article about performance training in the March 2009 issue of the Washingtonian Magazine by Denise Kersten Wills
Training techniques used by pro athletes can help you shave strokes off your golf game or minutes off your marathon time.
“I always believed you’re either fast or you’re not,” says Tami Lenox, 50, a recreational-soccer player and former girls-soccer coach. Lenox began to rethink that assumption after she sent two of her slowest players to work with James and Monica Walker. Their business, Athletic Excellence, trains athletes.
Lenox hoped the girls would get fitter and become a little faster. Eight weeks later, she was stunned: They were among the fastest sprinters on the team.
She decided to see if James and Monica—he’s a former strength coach at the University of Maryland, she was a college sprinter who competed at the 1996 Olympic trials—might be able to help her, too. (more…)
Nick Sorensen has been training with AE since June of 2002. Initially we worked with him for five and a half weeks up to the pre-season camp with the Rams.
After the initial assessment we focused on improving his explosiveness, lean muscle mass, his lower core function, sprint technique, and reminding him of the correlation between all of those things and his speed. We simultaneously addressed scar tissue in his shoulders, rotator cuff, and lower legs, along with a few flexibility-imbalance issues. Nick never has had an issue with body-fat ratios or scores, in the off season his body-fat is 6% and in season 4%. That year Nick’s initial 40 time was 4.41 seconds, when he left it was 4.35 seconds.
By 2003 we wanted to make him completely healthy, muscular, and strong from the previous season’s injuries. By camp with the Jaguars Nick was performing 135 lb dips, 50 lb close grip pull-ups, and 225 jerk presses, all for 3 reps. Likewise his sprinting technique was superb, with excellent angles, tempos, power, and limb placement. His best 40-yard times were 4.28 and 4.23 seconds.
Since then we’ve worked with Nick through and around injuries to the elbow, shoulder, and lower leg, team off-season training restrictions, releases, transitions, and new team auditions. Through it all he has learned to be disciplined, consistent, knowledgeable, healthy, and prepared in all phases. Nick has been one of the fastest players on each of his teams.
Kato going through a series of reflex motor skills to enhance his fast twich muscles.