Hind leg and in particular, hamstring strains are a very common injury in sport dogs.
Hind leg muscles are very important for all K9 sports:
- fighting helpers in IGP and PSA,
- fast, explosive jumps, pull aways (acceleration) in dumbbell retrieves, accelerating out of a turn for a new jump etc
- deceleration to target in agility, gather their bodies for a jump, to pick up a dumbbell to catch a frisbee, running downhill etc
Previous muscle and hamstring strains are a risk factor for future muscle injuries. *Prevention is always better than cure!*
Comprehensive, multi-faceted programs are essentially best for hind leg and hamstring injury prevention.
Essential Training Considerations include:
1. Regular and gradual exposure to high speed running.
Aim to hit maximum speed and pace at least twice a week. To ensure that sprints reach maximum speed look at distances of approximately 50 – 100m. Aim for a total sprint distance of approximately 100 – 300m per session depending on your dog’s tolerance for sprinting.
2. Proper running mechanics
Overstriding puts extra strain on the hamstrings. It is important that you ensure no overstretching in their stride. Avoid excessive pelvic motion during running.
Too much tilt in the pelvis puts extra strain on the hamstrings and the spine. To avoid this, ensure that the pelvis and core muscles are strong enough to hold your dog’s body stable at full sprint.
3. Important: Use a variety of exercises
When strengthening the hammies, glutes and quads it is important to use a variety of exercises:
- eccentrically e.g. controlled rock back sits, incline squats etc
- isometrically e.g. back extensions etc
- Varying speeds and surfaces – Caution: your dog must be safe on in foundational exercises before progressing to unstable surfaces
- hip dominant movements
- knee dominant movements
Many of these types of exercises will also assist the iliopsoas muscles – a double win!
4. Ensure your training is well planned.
Avoid high speed running exposure within the same formal exercise day or afterwards. Sprinting after exercising the hind legs can increase the risk of strains as these muscles are fatigued.
5. Warning signs
Don’t ignore warning signs of more tightness in the hind legs and hamstrings than normal, especially if this tightness is on one side only.
6. Joint supplements are essential.
Most of these exercises incorporate repetitive movement. Keep your dog’s joint well looked after for maximum impact of your exercise routine and competing years.
Sashas Blend is published to heave the highest quality of science in the world showing efficacy to repair, protect and alleviate pain and discomfort.
It is the only joint supplement I use on my own dogs.