Female Track Athletes: Prevent Hamstring Injuries With These Exercises

We explain how to prevent hamstring injuries in track athletes by correcting imbalances in other areas of the body.

Nearly every athlete has been sidelined with an injury she didn't anticipate. For female track stars and long-distance runners, the unexpected injury is often a pulled or torn hamstring, a muscle used extensively when running and one that is quite susceptible to injury.

Pulls and tears are usually precipitated by a lack of strength in the muscle. However, several other factors contribute to hamstring injuries, which can even occur during training.

Matt Martin, University of Nebraska sprints and hurdles coach, observes how other areas in the body affect the hamstrings. He says, "We believe many hamstring injuries come from imbalances within the core region—from the abdomen and lower back through the quads and hamstrings down to the backs of the knees. Sometimes an imbalance in that area puts additional strain on the hamstring, resulting in an injury. So, the hamstring is not actually to blame for the problem."

Martin puts his sprinters and runners through a program designed to prevent imbalances, reducing stress on the hamstrings and lowering the risk of a pull or tear. In addition, healthy, flexible and strong hamstrings help prevent ACL injuries.

Perform these exercises at the beginning of your workout to keep your hamstrings healthy on your way to faster times.


Lying Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Lie on back on bench, thighs halfway off
  • Pull both knees to chest, keeping low back flat
  • Keep one leg to chest by holding behind knee
  • Drop other leg back to bench and bend to 90-degree angle
  • Hold position for three seconds; repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each leg

Lying Hip Glute Stretch

Angry Cat Stretch

  • Start on hands and knees
  • Tuck chin in toward chest
  • Tighten stomach and arch back; hold for five seconds
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10; perform 3-4 times per dayAngry Cat StretchMid-Back Stretch

  • Start on hands and knees
  • Drop butt toward ankles
  • Push chest toward floor
  • Reach arms forward as far as possible; hold for 30 seconds
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10; perform 3-4 times per day

Mid-Back Stretch

Bridging With Straight-Leg Raise

  • Lie on back on floor with feet flat
  • Raise hips, keeping straight line from knees to shoulders
  • Lift one foot off floor and straighten leg; hold for five seconds
  • Lower foot back to ground; repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each legBridging With Straight-Leg Raise

Photo:  bsubeavers.com

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock