Hamstrings always sore

Hello SUF community!

I’ve done multiple Sufferfest plans and love them. I try to incorporate a strength aspect into the plans, but the strength always leaves my hamstrings sore. When I bike and run, my hamstrings consistently stay sore or tight. I was hoping the strength would help, but it feels like it takes away from my training leaving me sore more often. Anyone have thoughts on if strength is helping or hurting or how to deal with consistently tight hamstrings?

I stretch my hamstrings whenever I ride or run and also use a foam roller. Not sure if it is related, but my lower back is also tight. I do the yoga videos to help too.

Thanks,
Chris

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Hi Chris,

Speaking as a chiropractor, if your bike is set up correctly, you shouldn’t be getting any real hamstring soreness. Are you sure it’s from the bike, and not from running? I think you need to work that out first.

If it is because of cycling, it could be your saddle is too tight. If it is because of running…that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Because the hamstrings attach to the pelvis and below the knee, they actually cross 2 joints, which means they have 2 actions. They are predominantly knee flexors but they also extend the hip joint a little too. If they are sore from running then it is very probable that you are not firing your glutes (which are primary hip extensors). If your glutes aren’t firing then your body will recruit the hamstrings and lumbar erector spinae more to compensate…causing low back aching/pain.

Finally, most people do not stretch hamstrings correctly, they stretch with a straight knee, this means you’ll feel the pull (usually) at the back of the knee…by doing this you’re stretching the surrounding fascia and also the sciatic nerve rather than the belly of the hamstring. It is best to stretch the hamstring with your knee ever so slightly bent, your heel on a chair, your back up straight and lean forwards (almost leaning forwards with your chest and not your low back). BUT…a word of caution, if your hamstring is weak, stretching will not help. Static stretching causes some mild muscular inhibition and makes the muscles weaker for a short while after stretching.

My advise to you would be to work on strengthening your glute max and almost certainly glute medius as well. Have a look at this video

Unfortunately unless you are local to me, which is very unlikely (I’m in the south of the UK) then without being able to see and assess you it is hard for me to offer a great deal more advice.

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Hi Ross,

Thanks for your message. Just to clarify. My hamstrings (Glutes as well) get sore from doing the strength videos in the Sufferfest App. When I ride and run without the strength videos then my hamstrings tend to stay tight all the time, but don’t get sore. To your points, it sounds like it is my hamstrings and glutes that are weak which is probably why I get so sore from the strength videos so easily.

Then my soreness doesn’t really go away due to continuing to run and ride the bike with the strength videos. Sounds like I should go into active recovery while doing the strength videos until I can build up the proper strength in my hamstrings and glutes. I will give your video a go.

I am in Orlando, Florida. Would a chiropractor or physical therapist be the best solution to get a local opinion?

Thanks,
Chris

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Thanks for posting that … useful info whether we have hamstring issues or not !!

Hi,

Any half decent physio or chiropractor should be able to help you.

If it isn’t just weakness it becomes a bit more complex. Running in particular uses a lot of muscles and the running movement pattern is subconscious. One can strengthen muscles up until the cows come home, but that does not necessarily mean that when you start doing a subconscious activity such as running that those muscles will then fire. If this is the case you will need to get someone to look into neurogenic inhibition, whereby opposing muscles (eg quads to the hamstrings) become so tight they actually “switch off” their antagonistic muscles.

As a basic example… Notice if you are contracting your quads you can’t contract your hamstring at the same time? That’s because when the quads contract you get neurological input at a spinal cord level to switch off the hamstring. If a muscle is very tight this can happen even when you don’t want it to. In this case you need to stretch that tight muscle a lot to try to prevent the this. If that doesn’t work it begins to get more complex but it can be done, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Also one needs to consider whether the soreness/tightness is equal on both sides or not. If it isn’t, why not? That makes things interesting too :slightly_smiling_face:

I would start by doing some good glute max and medius strength exercises a good 4x/week for 6 weeks and see how things go.

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Not a problem. Suffering for the wrong reasons is never fun and I like to try and help where I can.

Edit - just realised in my earlier post I said the hamstrings extended the knee and hip… I was obviously thinking just the hip… Because the flex the knee! Just changed it to avoid confusion. I should proof read before replying!

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@cpetersen44,

There are definitely some good points here, but don’t forget that the strength program takes time to adapt to, especially if you have some muscles that are very weak…at least 4 weeks, sometimes longer. How long have you been doing the strength program?
You are correct in that while doing strength, especially in the first month, your running and cycling will feel compromised, but remember that unless you have an event that you’re training for in the immediate term, sacrificing your running and cycling a bit to get your muscular strength levels up is a worthy cause because you will improve further in the long run as a result.
Just some bits to keep in mind!

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Hi Coach.Suzie.S,

I just started a new sprint multi-sport intermediate plan with beginner strength and beginner yoga. I had test week last week and did my first strength session yesterday. I am 8 months post an achilles tendon rupture, so this plan is more conservative than my previous. I have completed 3-4 Sufferfest tri training plans (2-3 Olympic distance and 70.3). I had pretty much given up on adding strength to my plans because it feels like my body never adapts to the strength (always sore mid to high in the hamstrings and in the glutes).

Only reason I added strength this go was to help with getting my achilles surgery leg back to normal and I like doing the strength, just not how I feel the next days. I love the Sufferfest training plans because they keep my training in check as I usually like to workout out too hard too often. Even when not doing the strength plan, my hamstrings are consistently tight and my low back consistently hurts (mostly in the morning when getting up).

Hope this isn’t an overload of information, but I am turning 40 next year to give you an idea of where I am in my life. I really want strength to work and think maybe I was too aggressive in my earlier plans.

Thanks,
Chris

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I do think including the strength training program is worth it. Especially in the present time when there aren’t any races that you really need to train hard for on the bike and run. Use this time as a gift to improve your weaknesses! You can stay on the tri plan, but dial back the intensity of the cycling and running sessions when you’re sore.

One additional thought is that maybe you need more warmup before starting your strength workouts since you’re so tight. As I’ve gotten older (nearing 40 as well) I’ve found that I need more warm-up than I used to…especially when I’m tight or sore. Prior to doing any strength training, I like to do 10-20 minutes of dynamic stretching, and maybe even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise like spinning or very easy jogging before the dynamic stretching. If you’re not familiar with dynamic stretching, it’s a method of stretching while increasing body temperature, range of motion and mobility that gets you ready for more intense exercises in the workout. I like to do BW squats, alternating knee to chest pulls, lunges, lunges with rotation, lateral squats or cossack squats, Spiderman, Inchworm, Hip circles, fire hydrants, etc. Anything that increases blood flow and muscle activation that’s not too strenuous. After doing some low level exercises like these, you can increase the tempo a little with jumping jacks, jump rope, hops forward and back, to progress a little further. Again, take it slow and work into the intensity.

And of course, when you’re finished, take at least 5 minutes to stretch and foam roll the muscles you’ve worked to encourage them to return to their lengthened state as they cool down.

Give the dynamic stretching a try and let me know how it goes!

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Oh, man. I need to try some of that. Thanks for the tips!

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Thank you for your thoughts Coach.Suzie.S. I have been going into the strength sessions cold and I will see what doing a proper warm-up and cool down does. Makes sense!

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Agree with all the replies, as I, too, have been experiencing tightness in my (right) hamstring, causing pain down my calf with terminus on my foot. When running, it feels as though there’s a fracture or something.

SUF yoga has been helpful, but, during 1:30 Cadence Builds last week, I noticed hyperextension in my right leg. Much like the old joke on Slowtwitch, my seat, indeed, was too high. It only took me a year to figure that out.

Felt much better yesterday during Open 45, and I felt overall better on today’s run, though still with some pain afterwards, despite 10-ish minutes of stretching beforehand. Hips & Hamstrings on yoga loosened everything back up this afternoon. Will continue to work on that session, as well as review the posted video for further suggestions.

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Hey Coach.Suzie.S,

The big thing I was missing was the warm-up prior to doing strength. That has made the difference so far. Seems like a logical thing to do, but never thought about it given how short the strength sessions are. Thanks for your message!

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So glad that the warmup was a fairly easy solution for you, @cpetersen44! Stay tuned for some new content in the app which will help with this :wink:

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Ross thanks for your reply here… I’m also having hamstring issues really up into my butt cheek I suspect predominately associated with running … I know you say you are in sth uk… don’t suppose you are close to Wokingham are you?! :nerd_face:

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Hi @KGallantry unfortunately I’m near Portsmouth. I’ll have a little ask around to see if I know anyone in that area for you.

If it’s in the cheek and isn’t glutes it may be hamstring tendinopathy.

Give me some time and I’ll see if I can find someone.

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Thanks Ross…funny you should say that as I have been going down the hammy tendinopathy route thought process as well having stumbled upon some master (ie older lol) master athlete article somewhere down one rabbit hole I went down… So, now we can see people again it’d be good to have someone who knows what they are doing take a look at it! Some days it’s :100: fine and other days it’s :fu: … if you get me!

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Is Reigate too far away? I know a Chris Hamp at Reigate chiropractic clinic…

Edit - or Gareth Ward at Adapt Chiropractic UK in Wokingham.

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Hey @Ross didn’t see the reply… thanks! I’ll look up Gareth … my other half is wanting a chiro as well so one or other of us will pay him a visit… thx!

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I have this same tendinosis as well, especially on the left side, but mine came from 13 years of soccer and a military career. I have found that the yoga exercises hip openers to be a big help with that and then rotating between calves & hamstrings, hamstrings & hips, and loosen lower back. Sometimes on rather difficult days after a hard ride I have to do active recovery of all three in this order loosen lower back, hip openers, and hamstring & hips.

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