Injury Archives: Hamstring Pain
In Marathon!, Jeff says that if your hamstrings are tired or sore,
"You're lifting the foot behind you too far and/or extending stride
too long. The longer stride is particularly a problem at the end
of the long run as it overextends muscles like the hamstring, which
are already tight and tired. Try to keep stride short, especially
at the end of the run. Your back leg motion should have the lower
part of the leg parallel to the horizontal - at its highest elevation."
(from the new Marathon! by Jeff Galloway, Phidippides Publication,
2000, pp. 171-172)
Recently, Jeff received an email from a runner with hamstring problems.
Here are the runner's questions and Jeff's answers:
I am an aging baby boomer who used to run long distance (10-15
miles) in high school. I stopped running after college and am now
getting back into it, with an eye on doing a marathon. I have been
running regularly again (3-4 times a week) for 7 months. I have
a question for you. Recently I started to have a pain in my right
hamstring, the side of my leg not in back. After running I would
find myself walking with a limp the day of my run, especially up
and down stairs. I backed off running for a week. When I returned
to running the pain returned. I backed off running for two weeks
and then began again. I am doing 3 miles currently and although
my hamstring still feels funny on my right side after runs, it doesn't
³hurt² and I don't limp, even going up and down stairs. Of course
I don't want to re injure myself, so here are my questions:
1.) I tend to run fast during practice runs. From your writings
I get the impression that perhaps I should train at slower speeds?
Do you think that could help?
Jeff: When your hamstring hurts, don't stretch it and don't
run anything that could stretch it out--such as fast running or
racing. I'd take 5 days off from running, talk to a doctor about
using anti-inflammatories, and look into deep tissue massage therapy.
2.) I run 4-5 miles three times a week at the local YMCA. They
have a 1/15th mile indoor track. Five miles means 75 laps. The track
direction switches during the week, but there is a lot of cornering.
Could the constant leaning while running through corners be contributing
to my problem?
Jeff: The lean will only aggravate a hamstring when your stride
is too long.
3.) I use general over the counter tennis shoes, could changing
to a running shoe help? And if so do you recommend a shoe type for
Jeff: The primary lesson I've learned from owning a running
store for almost 30 years is that you need to get good advice from
skilled running store experts to get the best shoe for you. The
running shoes are prescriptive. While running shoes won't help your
injury situation, they will make running more fun and rewarding.
4.) Could certain hamstring stretching exercises or weights help
build my hamstring up and help prevent injury?
Jeff: Just the opposite. Stretching will keep the hamstring
injured. Weight exercises for the legs are almost always counterproductive
to distance running.
Thanks for any suggestions you can give me. I currently have your
Galloway's Book on running and found it to be very informative and
helpful. I see that you have a new book about preparing for a Marathon
and running with ³walk breaks². I think I might try your ³walk break²
program out and see if I like it.
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