How to Cross-train your way to recovery

Cross Training Your Way to Recovery from Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy

Proximal hamstring tendinopathy can be a challenging condition to manage, especially for those who love to stay active. In this podcast episode, we’ll explore the various cross-training options that can aid in your recovery journey. From cycling to swimming, elliptical workouts, gym exercises, and more, we’ll discuss how to incorporate these exercises into your rehab plan while optimizing your recovery.


Welcome to this podcast dedicated to helping you overcome proximal hamstring tendinopathy. Hosted by Brodie Sharp, an online physiotherapist and recreational athlete, this podcast provides insights into understanding this condition, evidence-based treatments, and debunking common misconceptions. In this episode, we’ll delve into the world of cross-training and how it can be an integral part of your recovery, no matter which stage you’re at in your rehab journey.

The Importance of Cross Training

Cross-training is a valuable addition to your rehabilitation plan, but it’s essential to approach it with careful consideration. The effectiveness of each type of cross-training depends on your current level of tolerance and the sensitivity of your hamstring. Think of these activities as being on a spectrum, just like running, sitting, or strength exercises. Depending on your specific condition and progress, certain forms of cross-training may be suitable while others should be avoided.

Cycling and Its Considerations

Cycling is a popular cross-training option, but its suitability varies depending on your current condition. Cycling involves both compression and stretching of the hamstring tendon, making it essential to gauge your tolerance levels. Your sensitivity, as well as your progress in rehab, determines whether cycling is a suitable option for you. To start, consider sitting up on the seat or gradually introducing more compression as you build strength and tolerance.

Swimming: A Low-Impact Option

Swimming can be an excellent choice for cardio and muscle engagement without high compression loads. Freestyle swimming, for example, requires open-chain hip extension, which some individuals may find challenging. If you experience discomfort during open-chain hip extension, consider incorporating alternative exercises or TheraBand exercises into your rehab. Additionally, using a floater or kickboard can allow you to focus more on upper body strength while swimming.

Rowing: A Challenging Choice

Rowing machines can provide an effective full-body workout but come with high compression loads on the hamstrings. To integrate rowing into your rehab, you should have a solid baseline of strength and compression tolerance. Start with deadlifts and progressively work towards rowing. It’s essential to monitor your speed and wattage while rowing, as faster, more powerful strokes can increase the load on your hamstring tendon.

The Elliptical Machine: A Low-Impact Alternative

The elliptical machine, also known as the cross-trainer, is a low-impact option that can provide an excellent cardiovascular workout. It is generally less demanding on the legs compared to other forms of cross-training. This makes it a good starting point for individuals with proximal hamstring tendinopathy, especially those who find walking or hiking uncomfortable.

Gym Exercises: Squats, Lunges, and Jumps

Exercises like squats, lunges, and jumps can be challenging for those with proximal hamstring tendinopathy. However, rather than avoiding them altogether, consider building your tolerance over time. A common misconception is to avoid exercises that have caused discomfort in the past. Instead, shift your mindset towards gradually reintroducing and building up the tolerance for these exercises.

Key Takeaways

  1. There’s no definitive answer when it comes to cross-training. What may be unsuitable for you now could become beneficial in the future.
  2. Avoid the mindset of permanently avoiding exercises that have caused discomfort in the past. Instead, work towards building tolerance and strength.
  3. Progression in your rehab should be gradual. Start with exercises that you can tolerate, then increase the load, range of motion, and speed as you build strength and resilience.
  4. Test and assess your responses to different loads to understand what your body can tolerate.
  5. Exercises that have caused discomfort in the past can become part of your rehab plan once you’ve built up your baseline strength and tolerance.

Recovering from proximal hamstring tendinopathy requires patience and a customized approach. Cross-training can be a valuable tool in your recovery toolbox. As you adapt and build up your tolerance, you’ll find yourself gradually returning to the activities you love while minimizing the risk of reinjury. Keep in mind that consulting with a healthcare professional or a coach can provide valuable guidance throughout your recovery journey.

Remember, every step you take, no matter how small, brings you closer to a pain-free and empowered future.