Chronic Hamstring Pain is a very common injury that I see in my office. While there are many possible causes of hamstring pain, I will address the Gluteus Maximus factor here in this article.
Glute Maximus is a very large and strong muscle. It engages when we go from a sitting to a standing position, when we run up a hill or climb stairs. Athletes often believe that doing lunges or squats strengthens and builds the Glutes, when in fact it is the quads that are doing most of the work.
To target the hamstrings we would need to strike the ground on our heals, and push back up on our heals. I recommend doing lunges just this way. Doing squats can actually “turn off’ the firing mechanism of the Glute Maximus, due to a neural phenomenon called Reciprocal Inhibition. Since the Glutes are of great strength, they need to be firing properly. When they are not, the hamstring group needs to work extra hard to support the load put on to it. When the load is too much, injury is likely.
Often only one side of the body suffers from “lazy glute”, sometimes both. Sometimes the Glutes both need targeted strengthening, other times the strength is there, the firing mechanism is just turned off.
One solution to engage Glute Maximus: TABLE TOPS. Get on all fours, raise opposite arm and leg straight out, balance and squeeze Glute. Hold for 30 seconds. Dorsi flex the foot to further target the Glute. Do this 3 times on each side of the body. Donkey kicks and Super Mans also target Glute, though I prefer working unilaterally, so one side of the body does not cheat for the other. Do this as part of your daily training warm up. Your hamstrings will thank you for it.