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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Testing Glute Firing Patterns for Hamstring Injury

By: Joel Luedke

Hamstring injuries are any athletes worst nightmare.  They seem to hold you out for longer than they should and when they are trying to heal something always seems to come up and set you back.  Frustrating to say the least.  The goal is to prevent them from happening and there has been extensive research on what might work best to accomplish this.

Eccentric loading of the hamstrings and the hamstring/glute complex have given the best results thus far.  But is that enough?  Often this is a great place to start but we also have to be concerned about mobility in the hips.  It doesn't matter how strong you are in your hamstring and glute complex if you don't have the range of motion through your hips to allow the muscles to move through their intended ranges of motion.  See our Mobility Monday: 20 Hip Mobility Exercises for some ideas on how to look at that angle.

Ok so now we have that addressed and we move pretty well through our hips but we still see people suffering from hamstring strains.  What else is there?  Well now lets take a look back at the nervous system that is making the hamstring and hamstring/glute complex fire.  We need to focus on proper glute, hamstring, and low back firing and the order that they occur.  So here is how it goes and how to test it.  We always want to the glute to fire first (lots of people are missing this) and then followed by the hamstring on the same side.  After this sequence has taken place we want to feel the low back erectors/QL on the opposite side fire.
  1. Glute
  2. Hamstring (same side as glute)
  3. Opposite low back (erectors/QL)
Great we know that so how do we test it.  Well this one I borrowed (ok, took from) Cal Dietz creator of Triphasic Training.  It is a very simple test.  Say we are testing the right glute/hamstring complex.  You would put your left thumb on their right glute, and your left ring/pinky finger on their right hamstring. You would then place your right index finger on their left low back (erectors/QL).  You then ask the athlete to fire their glute and you are paying attention to the order in which things fire based on your feel.

This can be a very simple exam that could potentially save you plenty of headache when it comes to hamstrings.  The quick exam is great for post injury rehab to look at firing patterns and if they are dysfunctional with the injury but also as a way to test how they are coming along throughout rehab.  Training the correct firing pattern is very important and can also be used as a preventative measure as you are training and working on the the correct firing patterns in training.

Happy hamstring prevention.


Barbell Shrugged: Cal Dietz and Andy Galpin

Video: Testing Proper Glute/Hamstring/Low Back Firing (great accent as well)
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