Posted by: YM | 2008/09/02


I have not experience hamstring problems during my marathon races. I might feel a slight twitch but nothing that bothers me or bring me to a halt.

I do hill training but at the Two Oceans 56km and Comrades I have hamstring problems. I’ m not certain about the exact kilometers but after descending from Chapmans Peak into Houtbay I experienced hamstring problems. Climbing up Chappies was a breeze and I could not understand the reason for my hamstring to pull tight. The same thing happened last year at Comrades after descending Fields hill my hamstring started pulling tight.

Does steep downhills affect your hamstring and how can I prevent it from happening again ? I can handle steep downhills if the distance is shorter e.g. 21km.

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Our expert says:
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Downhill running is certainly more likely to affect the hamstrings than uphill running. The reason is that the hamstrings have to work a little harder on a downhill road to help you decelerate. So if someone is going to cramp in the hamstrings, it usually happens on the downhill.

It's difficult to know why it would have happened this year, and not before. There might be a small difference in the training, something that at first glance doesn't seem to have been a problem, but actually cost you some important training time. Or it's the timing of your running, perhaps you've done a race or two differently this year, it would take some detective work to figure out.

So the problem is likely fatigue. That's why it happens on longer races, and not in the shorter ones. Therefore, you need to strengthen the hamstring, and that's done in the gym, and by practicing downhill running. The combination of the two should help. To do downhill sessions is especially important, but don't get carried away - one every 10 or so days is plenty, and you'd have to find a reasonably steep downhill (not so steep that you feel like you're out of control) and then run repeats on it. If you're at a gym, then strength work is quite easy - hamstring curls, lunges, squats etc will help.

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: YM | 2008/09/04

Thanx for the info but I do not gym. The reason - time constraints. I run downhill at least once a week but I feel my knee slightly hurts after a session of hill training i.e. going downhill.

I thought it could be fatigue because I run down Polly’ s during the down run and a few others but I do not feel any hamstring problem. The problem is after Fields Hill (extremely steep downhill) and my quads pain slightly BUT as soon as the road levels or flat my hamstring start pulling tight. As stated the same thing happened after the steep downhill at Chappies and you enter Hout Bay and the ground is flat and my hamstring pulls tight.

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