How to Prevent Hamstring Tears!

Just about every dancer struggles with this at some point, so I wanted to give you a few tips to help avoid something I personally went through so many times when I was trying to get more flexible...

You know that horrible moment when you are stretching away and you actually feel like you are getting somewhere, but then you feel a deep tearing pain right up by your sitting bone, and know that you will be out for a couple of weeks. And then just when it is getting better, you do a bit of a 'test' high kick in Jazz and it goes again?

Hands up who has had that experience..? Yep... Just about everyone..!

So what do we do to prevent it..?   

What NOT to do:

1. DON’T – Sit in long sustained stretches when you are cold. Over the holiday period, often dancers spend more time stretching than actually dancing. And then, usually because you are feeling a bit tight, you will sit in a stretch whenever hanging out on the floor... Sound familiar? Well the problem with this is that when we hold a muscle on a sustained stretch, the load is often taken at the weakest part of the muscle, putting it at risk of injury. Instead; try the Sun Salutations in the Front Splits Fast Program, or the Fascial Mobility exercises.

2. DON’T - Do long stretches, and then start dancing. Sometimes, if you know that you are about to get active, you will sit into a stretch for a sustained period of time. Remember that if a muscle has been on a long stretch the muscle fibres will not actually be able to generate as much force as normal for about 20 – 30 mins until after you come out of a stretch. Always remember to ‘wake up’ you muscles before going from stretching into dancing to ensure that you are using all of the muscle.

So what should you do instead?

3. DO - Train the hamstrings in extended positions. Most people think of stretching their hamstrings, but most dancers rarely think of strengthening them. This is really important to get strength in the end ranges of mobility. This video (one of the bonus videos, from The Front Splits Fast Program Members Area, explains a great way to do this using a resistance band, and is a great rehab tool when you are rehabbing other injuries too.

4. DO - Work on isolating the flexibility of your hamstrings from your pelvis and back. Many dancers flex their back in order to cheat range in their hamstrings. Training the strength of your deep back muscles and the eccentric strength of your hamstrings can drastically reduce the likelihood of you getting strains at just the wrong time. “The Waiter Bow” exercise in the Tips for Turnout eBook is perfect for this.

I hope these tips help you avoid any tragic hamstring strains these holidays, and help you return to dancing in the New Year in full form!