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By Dr. Jon Sebby, DC, ART Provider

The hamstring muscle runs down the back of the upper thigh and is connected to the knee joint by a large tendon. Overuse, injury and stress can causes this tendon to become inflamed. Tendinitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon; tendons are made up of thick, fibrous connective tissues that connect muscles to bones. Hamstring tendinitis can be caused my overuse from activities such as running, biking or yoga. Tendons have only a limited capacity to become inflamed. Over time the swelling goes away but you are still likely to have pain from the repeated scarring of the tendon. In these chronic cases, we begin to refer to it as a tendonosis instead of the tendonitis that is associated with the initial inflammation. The tendon losses some of its blood supply and becomes weakened, leaving it more susceptible to injury. A.R.T. can help treat the scar tissue and improve the blood flow to the area.

People suffering from hamstring tendinitis/tendinosis will likely have pain where the hamstrings attach to the ischial tuberosity (the bones that you sit on). It is important to get evaluated by a certified Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) provider. The A.R.T. practitioner can check for adhesions within the surrounding hip musculature to ensure that the hamstring is not being forced to handle excessive loads. In order for the hamstring to be allowed to heal it is also important to decrease the load/strain that the hamstring is placed under. If you are
a runner or cyclist, you most likely need to temporarily trade running/biking for walking, swimming, or upper body and core strengthening to give the hamstring a chance to heal. In any case, it can take up to 12 weeks off from the offending activity to allow your hamstring to heal.

Once properly diagnosed, A.R.T. and massage therapy can help cut down on the recovery time by improving tissue quality and blood flow to the injured area. For healing the tendinosis, eccentric strengthening (negatives) of the hamstring is key.

Exercises to Strengthen Hamstring

These exercises can be performed for both rehab and prevention. A decrease in pain is a great indicator for healing. Once pain has resided, it is important to return to normal activity slowly. If you are a runner, for example, start by doing long walks. Then after a

week or two, start doing some short run-walk-run-walk training. It is important to increase distance or time slowly. Only add between 10-20% to your total distance each week to decrease the risk of reoccurrence.

Brady Eccentric Hamstring Exercise

Start by standing and directly facing a stable chair. Place the heel of the affected leg on the chair. Make sure to maintain a neutral lumbar spine while keeping the pelvis facing forward. Allow the knee to “unlock” by letting it bend about 10 degrees. You should feel about 75% of a stretch to the hamstring. Adjust by flexing your hip and not the heel height or lumbar spine. Press the heel into the table by attempting to bend the knee with near maximum force and then lean forward into hip flexion. You should take 3 full seconds to complete the forward lean. Relax and return to starting position for your next rep. Repeat for 2 sets of 15 twice per day.

Static Hip Flexor Stretch

Oftentimes when the hip flexors are tight, the hamstring has to work harder to create extension from the hip. By stretching the hip flexors, it allows the glutes to work easier, which will take load off the hamstrings. Perform the static hip flexor stretch for 3 sets of 10 second hold on each leg. Make sure you maintain a neutral spine.

Isometric Supine Bridge (Glute Bridge)

The gluteus maximus muscle is designed to be the primary hip extensor, while the hamstrings are meant to work as synergists. Oftentimes, due to excessive sitting and repeated movements, the glutes weaken and the hamstrings take over as prime movers (synergistic dominance). The end result of this is an overworked hamstring. This next exercise is designed to help strengthen the gluteus maximus.

Lay on your back in hook-lying position. Then raise hips to create a straight line from the shoulder, hip and knee. Try to use only your glutes to hold the bridge. Do not extend your lumbar spine. Draw in abdominals at the top and maintain position. Start with three 15-sec holds and progress to three 30-sec holds.

For more of a challenge – in the bridge position raise one leg straight so the ankle, knee, hip and shoulders are all in a straight line. Do three 10-second holds on each side.

For More Information

If you think you might have hamstring tendonitis or to learn more about the Center’s soft tissue treatments and functional rehabilitation program CONTACT US

Learn About the Author Dr. Sebby