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Health & Exercise Forum

Don’t Let a Hamstring Injury Become Your Achilles’ Heel: Part 2 of 2

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Mar 5, 2012

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumGuest Columnist: Janet Caputo, PT, DPT, OCS

Hamstring injuries are common among athletes who participate in sports that require running, jumping, and kicking, especially when sudden changes in speed and direction are required. These injuries occur when the hamstring muscles are stretched too far or when caught off-guard during a sudden change in speed or direction. Sprinting and other fast or twisting motions with the legs are the major causes of hamstring injuries.

Following a hamstring injury, the incidence of re-injury is high. However, a rehabilitation program that focuses on stability (core and lower extremity), agility, and eccentric control is more effective in preventing hamstring re-injury than programs focusing on stretching and strengthening. Last week’s column illustrated some of the stability exercises that can be used during recovery from a hamstring injury.

The following exercises will target the essential agility and eccentric training requirements for recovery after hamstring injury.


Sprint Lateral Shuffle

Set up a series of markers similar to the diagram. Starting at the first marker, sprint backwards to the second marker and side-step to the third marker. Then, sprint backwards to the fourth marker. Rest and repeat in the opposite direction. Starting at #4, sprint forward to #3, side-step to #2, and sprint forward to #1.

Count Ladder Drill

Start with your feet hip width apart at the bottom of the ladder .Step your right foot out to the right of Square #1. Immediately, place your left foot into Square #1. Next, step your right foot into Square #1, next to your left foot.

To continue, step your left foot into Square #2, immediately followed by stepping your right foot into Square #2. You should count these first five steps in a 1-2-3-4-5 manor.

Continue by stepping your right foot forward into Square #3, followed by stepping your left foot forward into Square #3. Next, step your right foot to the right, into Square #4, immediately followed by stepping your left foot into Square #4.

Repeat this sequence for the full length of the ladder.


Nordic Hamstring Exercise

While kneeling, have a partner hold your ankles to stabilize you. Lean slowly forward, using your hamstrings to resist the fall. Keep your hips/trunk rigid and in line with your legs. This motion should look like a slow forward fall. Stop your motion when you reach the point where you can no longer hold yourself up with your hamstrings. Return to kneeling.

Guest Columnist: Janet Caputo, PT, DPT, OCS specializes in orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation as clinic director at Mackarey & Mackarey Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC.

Photos: Jennifer Hnatko.

Models: John T. Bedford, DPT, Amanda Brown, PTA, ATC.

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Every Monday in the Scranton Times-Tribune.  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.