Hamstring injuries are one of the most common injuries in a lot of sports. With pre-season training commencing for winter sports, we have put together some helpful information and exercises for hamstring injury prevention.

A recent study* showed a decrease in the rate of overall, new and recurrent acute hamstring injuries by using an exercise protocol including the Nordic Hamstring Exercise. The study showed the training program was able to reduce the rate of new injuries by more than 60%, and was highly effective in reducing the rate of recurrent injuries by around 85%.

Nordic Hamstring Exercise - illustration by Ben Wiseman.

Nordic Hamstring Exercise – illustration by Ben Wiseman.

The Nordic Hamstring Exercise is a partnered exercise where you load up the hamstrings whilst lengthening them:

  • Start in a kneeling position with someone holding your feet
  • Hold body up straight and rigid
  • Resist a falling forward motion using your hamstrings to control yourself down to the ground keeping your body straight
  • Use your arms to buffer the fall flat to your chest and push back up to the starting position

All exercises should be done after a proper warm-up.

The Program

It is important to ease in – one weekly session is plenty at first.

Week 1: 1 session; 10 repetitions

Week 2: 2 sessions; 12 repetitions each

Week 3: 3 sessions; 18 to 24 repetitions each

Week 4: 3 sessions; 24 to 30 repetitions each

Weeks 5-10: 3 sessions; 30 repetitions each (divided into 3 sets of 12, then 10, then 8 repetitions)

After 10 weeks, try to perform one weekly maintenance session of 30 repetitions.

Other Exercises and Tips

  • Always warm up!
  • Including more game specific drills with higher intensity rather than focussing on aerobic training in pre-season programmes
  • Include some dynamic stretching whilst fatigued. As most injuries occur at fatigue, training the muscle with controlled exercises whilst fatigued helps simulate this and prevent injury
  • The extender exercise
  • The glider exercise
  • The diver or bird feeder exercise
  • Including agility exercises in pre-season and return to sport such as:
    • Sidestepping (fast-paced)
    • Grapevine exercises
    • Stepping forward and back over a line whilst moving sideways
  • Side planking
  • Push-ups with trunk rotation
  • Always warm-down and stretch after training or a game!

Good luck with pre-season and visit us at Northcare Physio if you have any injury worries, or want further injury prevention advice.

*Source: American Journal of Sports Medicine 2011 39: 2296 originally published online August 8, 2011. Jesper Petersen, Kristian Thorborg, Michael Bachmann Nielsen, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen and Per Hölmich. Preventive Effect of Eccentric Training on Acute Hamstring Injuries in Men’s Soccer: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial.