Training and coping with a tight hamstring problem

Hi All

I posted a week or two back about some issues I had in my legs, turns out I think it was tight hamstrings having seen the physio and her telling me there was nothing fundamentally wrong.

Over the past week I've got back to training, and Sunday I did a "long" run of 10miles... on Monday I felt slightly tight in my leg, Tuesday was fine so I did a relaxed 5 miles, and today they are feeling a bit tight/stiff - so I had better not run to preserve myself (my plan had me down for intervals or another short run)

It seems that for some reason now I cant recover quickly from my long run, as this tightness in my hamstrings seems to re-occur.... I am not sure how I handle this in the run up to my London Marathon:

a) Revert to a "day on, day off" routine - which seems a bit basic
b) subsitute 2nd day running for xtraining or other gym activities to keep my activity up on a daily basis
c) something else.....

my priority is to keep doing my long run on the sunday with a view that other sessions are dismissable.... I am able to run at my target pace (8min/mile) relatively comfortably so I wonder what I am getting from extra midweek sessions....

However my training programme has reduced from 5 runs per week (2 short, 1 interval, 1 long and 1 fast) to now looking like 3 runs per week if i do a long run on a sunday, or 4 per week if i do a <8 mile long run...

Can you help me re-plan how i should structure my training, or other coping strategies for my tight hamstrings that have prevented me running tonight again.



  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭
    Are you stretching or massaging your hamstrings?
  • Hi Moraghan

    I've just been reading your excellent advice to Laura Harris's post earlier and so was hoping you'd see mine and reply image

     Traditionally I was a cursory stretcher - token jesture before and after, but having seen hte physio 2 weeks ago she has converted me..... I do it at least twice per day (stretching) and some days 4 times depending on when I am running in the day.... I've definately seen some improvement as a result of that, but still not ideal...

     physio says I am "quite stiff" so trying to work on that whilst also prepare myself for the VLM - got another appt with her on Friday AM but maybe this is a constraint I need to work around and do something about my program? - I'm not sure!?

  • Hi, I was told by a therapist I had short hamstrings, after seeking help with pain in that area,
    I religiously stretched those darn hamstrings every night with a towel over the foot, on my back. Seemed to work (or i just learned to tolerate the the pain)

    Now ,18 months on my hamstrings are as hard as nails, and never let me down.

    Sorry I can't be of more help but thought it might be worth posting.

    Good luck.
  • whats the relevence of a towel on your foot or back!?

    all ive been given is the "lean forward and try to touch your toes" approach - i cant touch my toes, and i do 10 of those twice per day on each leg (plus stretches for calfs and quads)

  • Lay on back, on hard floor, hold towel in both hands and over arch of foot with leg pointed the way of Allah, manipulate hamstring to stretch to the point of discomfort..Change leg...Repeat...
  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    I'm a fan of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching.  None of the other stretching techniques work for me such as active isolated stretching.

    Here's a link with basic information:

    I wouldn't stretch cold muscles so make sure you have a good warm-up.  If your physio gave you lean forward and touch your toes as stretching advice you probably need a new physio!

    You may also have to give the hamstring some help through self massage with your hands, a foam roller or ideally one of these (this has helped me):

    Finally, tight hamstrings can also be a result of other muscles being tight, so unfortunately you have to stretch more than just hamstrings.  I'm afraid I have no idea how to avoid the tedium of stretching!

  • I am always a bit confused by "stretching cold muscles" - I stretch when i get up and before i go to bed routinely.... so what sort of warm up can one do in the home in those circumstances?

     To be fair to my physio, when i went to see her my symptoms were very vague - general knee/leg/hamstring problem hence the stretching and some orthoptic foot insoles to help with my pronation - when i go to her on Friday I can be more precise about my ailment...

     Any suggestions how to manage my training around this current limitation?  should I just try to flex my programme to run when I feel comfortable? or revise my programme to do longer shorter runs less frequently to acheive my marathon objective?

  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    Mmm, warm-up in the home.....  I run twice a day and go to the gym so plenty of opportunities to stretch.  At home you could do skipping or up in the air bicycling perhaps - God they are lame suggestions.  Or go for a brisk walk beforehand.

    Regarding the training, random thoughts - your post misses out a bit of detail, such as:

    -  did your training change leading to tight hamstrings

    -  how do they feel after intervals

    -  what happens when you run with tight hamstrings

    -  what have you tried, 2 a days, changing workouts etc.

    If I were you I'd try and run the day after even if your hamstrings are tight.  Sometimes they will loosen during the run and a run will just be what you need.  Try it as an experiment and do loops near your home so you can bail if necessary.

    If that doesn't work and your hamstrings are tight the day after and preventing you from running I would cross train instead.  If the tightness only lasts for a day or so no matter what the previous day's distance, then personally I'd bump up the mileage of my runs every other day in attempt to partially compensate for the reduced frequency.

    Have you tried running twice a day to reduce the overall mileage done in one run to alleviate the symptoms?  This certainly isn't ideal but if it increases the amount of time you are able to spend running it's better than the alternative.

    How did your hamstrings react to the interval training?  I'd have thought that would make it worse.  I'd lay off those and only do upper aerobic zone running for your quality training.

    How do you do your runs?  Do you start off slowly and gradually build?  That would be ideal to ease your legs into it.

    As you know adjusting your training is only avoiding the problem.  Do it for a short while but be aggressive with all the other modalities at your disposal.

    It may be worth a week of getting back to basics.  Plan a week of running 6 times, with no quality and no run longer than 5 miles.  If you get through that, slowly add in the other elements of your running so you can really isolate the session which is the cause if indeed that is the problem.

    If you are running easy and long runs at your target pace this is far from ideal.  Meaning your target is a bit too soft or you are running them too hard.  If it's the latter that may give you the answer you are looking for.

  • Ok lots of detail and good suggestion there. My problem first started after the end of my longest ever training run at end of jan, I did 14 miles that day at 8:17/mile average taking my january total to 105 miles, by far and away my most intensive ever run training but a good start to my marathon training I thought. I had the next day or two off, 4 miles (treadmill) the day after and felt a few random but non significant little aches, did the same the next day and them after that I really tightened up behind the knee and in the hamstrings.

    Took about a week off, got back to it, two days on at ~4 miles and then felt tight again. At this point I went to the physio, explained my random symptoms of a few aches, niggles and tightness and got told I overpronate and I need to stretch more. After another week off training I got back to it the a week last Friday and did as follows

    fri - 4 miles
    sat - x train
    sun - 5 miles
    mon - rest
    tues - 5 miles
    weds - 4 miles
    thurs - rest
    fri - 4 miles
    sat - rest
    sun - 10 miles
    mon - rest
    tues - 5 miles
    weds - rest (today)

    my runs have varied from ~7:30/mile to 8:15/mile for the most recent/longer runs. Despite the advice on long runs I tried to slow down but felt most comfortable at about 8/mile and that is how my general running tends to fall into routine

    up to now only ever done half marathons, best time is 1:41, for the VLM I was secretly hoping to target 3:30 as training was going well etc etc

    So I haven't tried intervals for a while as I am scared to push myself too far and do serious damage, similarly I am scared to run when I ache as I fear that will lead to a week or more lay off when I can't afford to lose that time. So far my peak is 14 miles so already hitting a 20 training run will be difficult to fit in but psychologically I want that under my belt so I know I can hit the distance... I feel like I can't afford the time off so being cautious not to do myself damage, but I can't get back my ability to string together 2 or 3 sessions in as many days so feel I am suffering with that too

    when I am able to run I am pretty comfortable so whether I do 5 miles or 10 isn't the issue, but doing two days of 5 miles seems to result in a day or two of the same tight feelings.

    At the moment I don't know if I will get to London or even worse if I will do myself justice. More importantly the VLM was for me more about the journey and the challenge of training for it and I feel like that is being taken away from me for some ailment that has only recently appeared, that I haven't had before and that seemingly I can't do anything to resolve, seems like my hamstring wants to shut up shop when the rest of me wants to be out there
  • Best thing for tight hamstrings is to get a sports massage. A good therapist will also help with assisted stretches.

    You may need regular treatments but you will feel a difference


    allstar sports group
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