01 Dec The need and focus for hamstring strength
Hamstrings of steel – decrease your risk of injury and re-injury by increasing your hamstring strength
It isn’t irregular upon asking someone their injury history to find out they have had hamstring issues. Hamstring issues are the most common injury in sports that involve repeat bouts of sprinting (soccer, AFL, hockey etc.) it is therefore paramount that prevention of primary and recurrent injury is be taken into consideration during a strength and conditioning program.
In recent studies, likelihood of hamstring strain injuries (HSI) was increased due to three factors;
- Increased age
- Previous injuries
- Poor eccentric strength.
Of those factors, two are modifiable by incorporating eccentric hamstring exercises into your regimen. Enter the Nordic curl. Nordic hamstring curls are exercises most popularized by AFL players, whereby lowering the upper body whilst kneeling loads the hamstring muscles proportional to the rate of descent – the lower you go, the more your hamstrings work!
During a 10-week period, Nordic curls have been shown to decrease acute hamstring injuries by up to 70%! Not bad for such a simple exercise! Even more interesting was the fact that re-injuries alone were reduced by 85% in athletes that performed the Nordic hamstring exercise program. Armed with this knowledge, this should be one exercise in everyone’s arsenal. So, what does it look like, and how do I do it?
- Starting in a kneeling position with a partner or heavy object holding your feet, begin to lower yourself SLOWLY towards the floor.
- Once you can no longer resist the lowering motion, fall onto your hands and sit back up into the starting position and repeat.
In some cases, athletes are unable to complete the Nordic curl. In these cases, a regression called a SHELC (supine hip extension hamstring curl) is recommended. This recommendation should only come from either an Accredited Exercise Scientist or Physiologist or ASCA certified Strength and Conditioning Coach.
- Starting on your back, lift your hips off the ground, squeeze your gluteal and abdominal muscles tight and hold.
- You will then SLOWLY drag the ball in towards you till you reach a 90-degree angle between your upper and lower leg. Then repeat this in reverse to revert to the first step. Repeat.
3 takeaway notes;
- See your Accredited Exercise Scientist or Physiologist for an exercise assessment.
- Ask them about hamstring health and where you can begin.
- Be sure to incorporate these exercises on a weekly basis.