Runner Training 101: Importance of Ecccentric Hamstring Training for Runners

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According to the conclusions of a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006,

“Overground running (running a marathon) is associated with eccentric hamstring fatigue. Eccentric hamstring fatigue may be a potential risk factor for knee and soft tissue injuries during running. Eccentric hamstring training should therefore be introduced as an integral part of the training programme of runners.”

But what does eccentric even mean? Well, an eccentric muscle contraction is one in which the muscle is lengthening. Yes, your muscles are still contracting during the lengthening process. This contraction allows for a controlled movement during elongation.

The eccentric strength of any muscle is much higher than the concentric strength. During running your hamstrings are responsible for two things, slowing the extension of the knee joint in order to keep it from hyperextending and secondly, once it’s slowed down it provides force production to the ground to propell you forward.  The stronger your hamstrings are during eccentric contraction the less likely injuries to the knee will occur.

Hamstrings and gluts are often neglected in most workout programs, but should be incorporated. Whether you’re a sprinter or a distance runner your ultimate goal is speed, so the more power you’re able to generate from the hamstrings the faster you will be. Here are a few simple exercises that you can incorporate into your training regime.

Russian Hamstring Curl

Romanian Dead Lifts

Bridges on the Bench

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About Rich Thurman III B.Sc, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Rich has a Bachelors of Science in Physiological Science from UCLA and a Masters of Sports Management from USF. He is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, (NSCA) as a Personal Trainer (CPT) and Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He is primary author of The Fitness Library and writes for various other publications, including the San Francisco Police Officer's Association. Rich is the founder of Xodus Fitness, which offers Fitness Consulting & Personal Training, Urban Body Transformation Bootcamps, Corporate Wellness. Rich also conducts Workshops and an annual lecture at the San Francisco State University Kinesiology Department. Please feel free to contact through any of the links below to inquire about professional services or opportunities.

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