Wondering Why Your Hamstrings Seem To Stay Sore Forever?
Your hamstrings are made up of three large muscle groups. Since they are large, heavyweight is usually used to overload them in movements such as the deadlift and squat. These heavyweight exercise cause a lot of muscle damage to the hamstrings, resulting in long-lasting soreness. Overtraining your hamstrings can also be factor.
What Makes Up The Hamstring Muscles
The hamstrings are found on the back of your thigh, below the buttocks and above the calves. They are made up of three muscle groups, the sentmitendinosus, semimembraneous and bicep femoris. Do you need to know this? Is there a bicep in your leg? No and no. It is important to note that the hamstrings are made up of 3 large muscles. The hamstring muscle group plays a prominent role in hip extension and knee flexion. They are also a stabilizer for the knee joint. So they assist in hip and knee movement, bending your knees, and tilting your pelvis.
Due to the hamstrings being such a large muscle, they often must be targeted with a lot of weight to grow them. Bodybuilders and lifters throw on a lot of weight to overload and grow the hamstrings. Deadlifts, Romanian dead lifts, and squats are all compound movements used to target the hamstrings. All of this weight destroys the muscle fibers and then they begin to regrow bigger and stronger. Since so much damage was done, it takes a long time for the recovery process.
The hamstrings contain type 2 anaerobic muscle fibers, which means that it is easier to cause muscle damage to them. Since the hamstrings are very long muscles, exercises that use a wide range of motion will really break them down, causing soreness. The deadlift is an example. Workout intensity and volume of sets is another factor that should be taken into consideration. If you are working them too hard, this can result in them being sore for longer. If you are currently doing 8 sets of dead lifts and can’t walk without pain for 3 days after, maybe cut out a few sets. Overtraining will leave you sore for longer than you should be.
Hamstring Related Injuries
Maybe you are experiencing more than just muscle soreness from your intense workout. It is possible that you have an underlying injury as hamstring injuries are the most common sports injury. Contusions are one type of injury that usually happen when an external force acts on the muscle, causing pain, swelling, or stiffness.
Rest, ice and pain medications are all good remedies for an injury. Taking a few weeks off of sports or lifting is also necessary so that you don’t aggravate or make the injury worse. Surgery is rare, but can be required if a serious muscle tear occurred. If you can’t put any weight on the leg or are experiencing significant pain, you should see a doctor. Symptoms include sharp pain in the back of the thigh, or a popping or tearing feeling. Swelling will usually also occur followed by bruising and discoloration.
How to avoid injury? Stretching is number one. Try out the seated hamstring stretch where you sit with on leg straight out in front of you, and the other leg bent on the floor, your foot should touch your knee. Slowly lean forward and reach toward your toes as far as you can before you feel a stretch.
The simple hamstring stretch is another great option. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight in front of you and extend your arms while slowly leaning forward by bending at the waist. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Strengthening your glutes can make a big difference in reducing hamstring pain or strains. If your glutes are weak, then your hamstrings can be overloaded and strained as these two muscles work together. Throw in some hip thrusts or glute machines every leg workouts to help with this. Strong glutes will also benefit you in many other exercises. Don’t forget to master your form! If you are lifting with incorrect form this can be a leading cause of injury and soreness. Start with lightweight and work your way up. If you are using your entire body and swinging to complete a rep, you need to decrease the weight. Ensure that you are feeling a hamstring exercise only in your hamstrings and no where else.
How To Reduce Recovery Time?
Start with easier isolation movements to warm up your hamstrings properly. Pair this with stretching. Do a few sets of lightweight hamstring machine curls before doing your heavy compound movement. This will make sure there is adequate blood in the muscles and that they aren’t tight and as susceptible to damage or tears. Consider foam rolling your hamstrings before and after a taxing leg workout. Foam rollers help stretch and loosen muscles. Studies have proven that foam rolling reduces muscle soreness and inflammation. It may also increase muscle and joint range of motion, which improves flexibility and performance. Most gyms provide them or you can buy cheap ones if you find that you have regular hamstring soreness. Here’s a cheap yet high quality option.
Consider getting a massage or physical therapy if you are still experiencing extreme soreness. You may also consider purchasing BCAA’s to drink during your workout. They are proven to activate cellular pathways that stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which enhances muscle growth. More importantly for recovery, they are shown to decrease muscle damage during a workout. They also decrease protein breakdown during training and levels of creatine kinase; an indicator of muscle damage.
Strengthening your hamstrings by regularly working out is a great way to reduce recovery time. If you are only doing one hard hamstring workout every 2 weeks, you will be noticeably more sore than if you train them twice a week. This is because regularly training strengthens your muscles, and allows them to become used to being broken down. Your diet is also important. You should be eating adequate protein to build strong hamstrings and carbs to fuel you through tough workouts.
Stay hydrated as your muscles are made up of water and need it to function properly. Water fills up our cells and helps with protein synthesis. Water also helps the body facilitate digestion, so that the body can receive all the important nutrients you feed it. Take rest into account. When you sleep, your body repairs muscle tissue and restores balance. Lack of sleep has also shown to contribute to loss of muscle mass, due to hormonal changes that occur while we sleep.
Let me know what you learned in this article and which steps you’ll be adding into your training! Feel free to leave any questions below.