High hamstring injury, most commonly high hamstring tendinopathy or high hamstring strain, can often be resolved with a rehab exercise program. I’ll show you how to perform isometric exercises for high hamstring injury in this blog. Know that high hamstring injuries are common, and you can overcome them successfully with hamstring injury rehab exercisess.
In some cases you might need more than just high hamstring injury exercises to recover, and this is especially true if it’s not actually high hamstring tendinopathy or strain.
Avulsion fractures of the ischium (your sit bone) often present in a very similar manner, so it’s important to make sure you don’t have one of those. They can often be spotted with x-rays, but sometimes you need an MRI to see them so I would advise seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist to rule out avulsion fracture if you think you may be in this situation.
Why Should You Do Isometric Exercises For High Hamstring Injury?
There are a lot of rehab exercises for high hamstring injury, but isometrics are the best ones to start with. Isometric hamstring exercises apply load and tension to the hamstring muscles without a lot of shortening/contraction of the muscle or joint movement.
When you have a high hamstring injury you want to start with isometric exercises because they allow you to engage the muscle but control how much tension you’re putting on it so you don’t’ continue to aggravate the hamstring muscle that’s in an active healing process.
Generally, I’ll move my patients through the following phases, with speed depending on how painful their injury is and how much it’s limiting their function:
- Isometric hamstring loading exercises
- Isotonic hamstring loading exercises with minimal hip flexion
- Isotonic hamstring loading exercises with increased hip flexion
- Energy storage and impact loading exercises
I can’t stress enough how important it is to apprach your high hamstring injury exercise rehabilitation with a strategy. Start with the isometric hamstring exercises I’m going to cover here and then move forward as you begin to improve and see gains in hamstring muscle strength.
5 Isometric Exercises for High Hamstring Injury
Start with these 5 isometric exercises for recovery of your high hamstring injury. Again remember, isometric hamstring exercises are those where you’re producing muscle activation in the hamstring muscles without actually changing the length of the muscle. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry, it’s not. I’m going to break them down for you below and attach isometric hamstring exercise videos to make it easy.
A couple things to know first. Make sure your pain doesn’t exceed a 3/10 when doing these, if it does they’re not right for you at this time. Second, shoot for doing 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions in a superset. Superset means you do a set of each of the 5 exercises in a round, and then repeat. I do always tell patients that achieving fatigue in your hamstrings is the goal, so don’t worry about about finishing all the repetitions if you reach fatigue.
You’re going to need a Theraband in order to do some of these exercises. Therabands provide elastic resistance and are a must have for rehab exercises for high hamstring injury and other muscle injuries. You’ll also need a door anchor to attach the Therabands to something.
You can buy a set of 3 Therabands (different resistance levels) on Amazon for cheap here: Theraband set on Amazon
If you need a door anchor, I like this one from Lifeline because it’s simple and cheap: Door anchor from Amazon
High Hamstring Tendinopathy Exercises
I cover isometric high hamstring tendinopathy exercises below with pictures and descriptions, there’s 5 of them.
If you’d prefer to see them on video, I’ve got the progression posted here.
Make sure you learn these and stick with them as you rehab your high hamstring injury.
Isometric Leg Curl WITHOUT a Theraband
- Lay on your back with the injured leg bent and your foot on the ground.
- Press your foot (on the injured leg) into the ground while simultaneously activating your hamstrings like you’re trying to bring your heel to your buttocks (but don’t actually move your leg, we’re only looking for that muscle engagement.) Hold this position for 10 seconds or shorter if you fatigue.
Isometric Leg Curl WITH a Theraband
- Lay face down on the floor or a mat. Attach one end of the band to an anchor (door or wall hook), and the other around your ankle.
- Scoot away from the anchor so there is tension on the band. Use a hand to pull your knee into 90 degrees of flexion against resistance. Hold this position for 10 seconds or shorter if you fatigue.
Isometric Bridges with 0 Degrees of Hip Flexion
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Lift your hips up until there’s a straight line between your knees and shoulders.
- Focus on squeezing your glute muscles and hamstrings while driving through your heels. Hold this position for 10 seconds or shorter if you fatigue.
Isometric Single Leg Bridges with 0 Degrees of Hip Flexion
- Position yourself the same as you do in the isometric bridges but raise your non-injured leg so it’s straight and your thigh is in line with the opposite (injured) leg or slightly above it.
- Again, focus on squeezing your gluteal muscles and hamstrings (of the injured leg) while driving through your heel. Hold this position for 10 seconds or shorter if you fatigue.
Isometric Straight Leg Pull Down
- Attach one end of a Theraband to your foot or ankle (injured leg) and the other end to a wall anchor. Lay flat on your back with the band pulling up and over your head (behind you.)
- Let the resistance of the Theraband pull your straight leg to about 45 degrees and engage your hamstring and gluteal muscles to hold your leg in that position for 10 seconds or until you fatigue.
How to Recover from High Hamstring Injury (Additional Care)
Isometric hamstring strengthening exercises are good to do for at least 1 week, depending on how severe your high hamstring injury is. You may be ready to progress sooner or later and you can guage this by asessing the strength of your injured hamstrings. Once you feel ready to progress you can move onto isotonic exercises and follow the plan I outline above.
Remember, each person’s high hamstring injury is unique and requires a unique recovery strategy. I’ve treated a number of these injuries successfully at our practice with exercises I covered above, but I also like to incorporate some manual therapy to speed up the process.
Manual therapy techniques I use include joint manipulation (chiropractic adjustments) to the low back and lower extremity, Graston Technique IASTM to encourage new tissue proliferation, and dry needling to manage pain, trigger points, and muscle tone.
Feel free to reach out if you feel like you may need some treatment, this is one of my favorite injuries to treat and help patients recovery from so they can get back to being pain free and active again.
Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.
If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.