Hamstring Injury Prevention
Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries seen in recreational and professional sport. They can significantly affect an athletes season partly because they take a long time time to recover and also because they have a very high rate of recurrence. Approximately one third of all athletes who sustain a hamstring injury will go on to have a second injury - many of these happen in the first week back. Very frustrating!
A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that the incidence of hamstring injuries in football (soccer) players can be reduced by about 60% by adopting a simple strengthening program. The study involved more than 900 professional and semi-professional football players based in Denmark. Players were either asked to complete a hamstring strengthening program or to continue with their normal training and warm-up routine. The strengthening regime involved a single exercise a 'nordic drop' - and was completed during a normal training session. Those who completed the strengthening program had a marked reduction in the incidence of hamstring injuries. The reduction was greatest for those who had previously injured their hamstring. There was an 85% reduction in the risk of injury in this group.
The nordic drop does not require any equipment and can be quickly and easily done on the training field. The exercise generally requires a partner. To do a nordic drop:
- The athlete starts in a kneeling position, with their partner applying pressure to the athlete’s heels/lower legs holding them against the ground.
- The athlete then lowers themselves forwards using their hamstring muscles. The athlete is asked to resist the forward fall for as long as possible using their hamstrings.
- As they fall forward the athlete is asked to use their arms and hands to buffer the fall, let the chest touch the surface, and immediately get back to the starting position by pushing upwards with their hands to return to the start position.
- Prior to completing this exercise the athlete should have warmed up properly
These exercises can cause quite bad muscle soreness (DOMS) when you first start doing them. It is suggested that you start the program slowly. The training protocol suggested by this article is as follows:
||Sets and Repetitions
||2 x 5 reps
||2 x 6 reps
||3 x 6-8 reps
||3 x 8-10 reps
||3 sets of 12-10-8 reps
||3 sets of 12-10-8 reps
If you have any other questions about hamstring injury prevention - or the management of an acute or chronic hamstring injury - please book in to see one of our expert clinicians.