This article is (sort of) a continuation to the article on Exercise, Recovery, Regeneration and Movement (Part 1)
Loren Seagrave once said, “Elite athletes are the best compensators in the world”.
More and more coaches and rehab specialists are focusing on having a healthy psoas, or specifically, the healthy “iliopsoas” group, which are 3 muscles: psoas major, psoas minor and the iliacus. For more information on the psoas muscle and how to stretch and massage it, read The Psoas Major Muscle: the Forgotten Hip Flexor.
Normal sprinting and weight training exercises focus on the posterior chain: primary gluteus, hamstrings and calves. See Vertical Jump and Sprinting: Training the Posterior Chain for more information.
In sprinting, when you can’t generate enough force from from primary muscle groups (i.e. posterior chain), then the secondary or synergistic groups take over and compensates (i.e. the hip flexor).
Like the stretch reflex, your body is built to protect itself (yeah, it’s hard to believe this when you are injured). The other muscles are just stabilizers.
In the above example, focusing on the hip flex group, the iliopsoas has the imbalance. In its hypertonic state, the iliopsoas protects itself from being overpowered by extra contractions & tightening and this can lead to trigger points as well. Hence the reason to have a good therapist.
As well, when fatigue sets in, you recruit the secondary movers, often the adductor group (magnus, longus, and brevis) in primary plane.
The “effect” of the hamstring injury results from the “cause” (i.e. tight iliopsoas). You can use the weakest link analogy here.
So basically you must be conditioned for a full range of motion ROM.. and then some.
Tell me more, tell me more…
So now you know WHAT the problem is. HOW do you train for this? HOW do you train both primary and secondary muscles groups? HOW do you prevent an imbalance?
Put them though an hour of med balls and funky core exercises?
Or do a lot of Lance Brauman or Pietro Mennea sub-max, medium-high intensity, high-volume workouts with repeat sprints with short recovery? Will this type of training recruit the secondary muscle groups?
One method that covers the 5 criteria of movement, balance, strength, flexibility and range of motion is using stretching PLUS movement, or rather, elongation PLUS movement. I would need a crash course in Fascia to really explain this, which is part 3 of this series.
PALO, which means “STICK” in Spanish, is based on the concept that stretching plus movement.
Each PALO pose starts with an elongation stretch and then a movement. You either maintain or increase that elongated stretch during the movement. There are over +1000 stretches and exercises that can be performed with PALO, and the numbers keep increasing every week.
In a way, it is similar to ART where you lengthen the muscle along with deep tissue massage.
PALO exercises are designed to challenge the whole body and improve the 5 components of dynamic posture: movement, balance, strength, flexibility and range of motion. “Dynamic Posture” is basically a series of postures linked together to produce a single efficient movement. PALO improves static and dynamic posture through its unique stretching plus movement poses.
Unlike traditional stretching, PALO comprises of non linear stretching and non-linear rotational stretches.
More information can be found at Palofitness.com
There are more ways to prevent hamstring injuries, correct balance, and strengthen the muscles for the entire range of motion. Those are upcoming articles, of course. It’s not an easy topic to address in a single post.