Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Cure for Cramping in the Hamstrings

Do your hamstrings ever cramp up, lock up, and even feel like you're going to strain them when you speed up on a run? Do they feel fine when you walk, but as soon as you lengthen your stride, you feel pain? Read below to find out what the acclaimed 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association Personal Trainer of the Year—Ben Greenfield—recommends!

Although there could be many causes, a hamstring problem like this can be an area of hypoxia (low oxygen delivery), calcium leakage, or scar tissue from a past injury.

Initial management for 48-72 hours after feeling this injury come on should involve:
Gentle stretching
10-15 minutes ice massage (i.e. Frozen dixie cup), 2-3x/day
Topical anti-inflammatory (Traumeel is one of my favorites)
Topical magnesium (10-15 sprays rubbed in over area)
Substitution of elliptical trainer for runs

After two to three days, you’d shouldn’t be gritting your teeth when you break out into a jog! Move on to:
Deeper stretching and preferably yoga
Return to running, but with a bicycling or brisk walk warm-up to heat the muscle (you can even try a topical heating ointment, like Greyhound)
Dynamic leg swings front-to-back and side-to-side both before and after workout
Warming up VERY well before your runs

If it continues to give you trouble, you may need more aggressive therapy, like Active Release Therapy, Primal Reflex Release Technique, Chiropractic, Acupuncture or Deep Tissue Massage. (Reposted with permission from my friends at TrainingPeaks blog.)

Ben hosts the highly popular fitness, nutrition and wellness website at http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/, which features blogs, podcasts, and product reviews from Ben. In addition to coaching and training for weight loss and sports performance at http://www.pacificfit.net,/, Ben serves as a business and marketing consultant to fitness professionals, and is the host of a weekly syndicated fitness business blog and podcast at http://www.trainfortopdollar.com/.


Lorenda said...

Great Info, thanks Runner Dude.
I was wondering, when he says "active release therapy", do you know if this is the same thing as Muscle activation therapy? After 3 hamstring pulls this summer a personal trainer friend from the running group highly recommended that I go to his trainer friend who is certified in muscle activation therapy. I went 3 times. they figure out which muscles are slacking off and not firing and basically pinch and poke them and get them going and there's follow up exercises to do every day. It seems to have helped, I'm over 5 weeks now with no more pulls and it always happened about 3 weeks after the last one. I'm even keeping up with the others in the running group again. I am stretching more too. I am going to try those leg swings too!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lorenda!
Great question. I'm not massage expert, but from what I can tell, Active Release Therapy and Muscle Activiation therapy (while they may have some similarities) are different techniques that often used in conjuction with each other. Here's a link with more information http://drmichelleclark.com/?p=15
Hope this helps!