Hamstring muscle injuries are common among amateur and professional athletes, especially in sports with sprinting demands, kicking, and sudden accelerations. Sports with a high number of hamstring injuries included sprinting (11-29%), Australian Rules football (15%-23%), Rugby league football (15%), Soccer (10%-47%) Rugby Union (6%-15%). Interestingly, among soccer players, hamstring strains were reported as the most common injury.
What is Nordic Hamstring exercise?
One of the simplest yet most effective and evidence-based way to reduce hamstring injuries this pre-season is to implement the Nordic Hamstring Protocol. Nordic’s have been a staple exercise choice since in their inception for hamstring prevention and rehabilitation. The beauty of the Nordic Hamstring protocol is that is requires no equipment, no cost and can be implemented anywhere, even at the local park, at home or in the gym.
How to perform the Nordic Hamstring exercise?
With a partner holding your legs stable, lean forward slowly whilst keeping your back hips straight. As you lean forward try to resist with your hamstrings for as long as possible, until you can no longer hold, in which you fall and catch with your hands out in front with your chest touching the ground. Start with 2 sets of 5 reps and progress as the below protocol suggests.
Nordic Hamstring Exercise Training Protocol
So when is the best time to do them, before a session? After a session? On off days? While the jury is still out, if you are new to this exercise, our recommendation is to perform after your training session to prevent hamstring fatigue prior to training. There are many progressions such as the addition of weight, perturbation from a partner, a razor curl etc that can be trialled once the protocol above has been completed.
It is also important to note that whilst the Nordic Hamstring is a fantastic exercise, it forms only one part of the hamstring injury prevention paradigm and a thorough program developed by your physiotherapist and/or strength and conditioning coach is required in order to truly minimise the risk of hamstring injuries this pre-season.
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Thanks to Coast Sport Physiotherapist Michael for preparing this blog. You can find out more about Michael here.