Hamstring strains are one of the most common injuries that occur in soccer, making up approximately 17% of all soccer injuries. A hamstring injury can lead an athlete to be left on the sidelines for weeks or even months!
Most soccer players know the important role that the hamstring muscle plays in maximal efforts of sprinting, acceleration, deceleration, change of direction and kicking which are vital components of every soccer player’s game. Therefore making a hamstring injury debilitating and devasting for both the soccer player and team!
The solution… Nordic hamstring curls
Using the Nordic hamstring curl alone can reduce injury risk by as much as 51%.
Nordic hamstring curls are an eccentric exercise. What does the mean? It means during the exercise, the hamstring muscle is contracting while it is lengthening (think of an elastic band that is being stretched however still resisting the stretch enough so it doesn’t break). Evidence has shown that this type of exercise is better at building muscle strength than concentric exercise where the muscle contracting and shortening (think of a spring that is being compressed). Both concentric and eccentric exercises are important, however Nordic hamstring curl has shown to be most beneficial in reducing risk of hamstring injury.
How to perform Nordic hamstring curls
You will need assistance from an exercise partner or gym equipment that will help keep your feet and ankle fixed.
- Kneel upright on the floor and ask your exercise partner to hold onto your heels for stability.
- Position your body so that your hips are in line with your knees, spine is in a neutral position and deep abdominal muscles are activated (you will need to maintain this position throughout the movement)
- Slowly lean your upper body forwards towards the floor by only allowing the angle at your knees to change (moving towards legs straightening)
- Control this movement by activating your hamstring muscles (located at the back of your thighs)
- At the end of the movement when approaching the floor, use your hands to stop yourself from contacting the floor and then push yourself back up to the starting position
- In season: 2-3 sets of 5-12 repetitions of the exercise for 1 session per week
- Off/Mid-season: 2-3 sets of 5-12 repetitions of the exercise for 1-3 sessions per week
*avoid performing Nordic hamstring curls before training to reduce hamstring injury risk during training due to fatigue*
Does the Nordic hamstring curl guarantee bulletproof hamstrings?
Unfortunately not. The Nordic hamstring curl should be implemented with other modalities to improve and maintain hamstring health. The best approach to guarantee optimal hamstring health should be determined by a qualified health professional and the athlete to ensure the management plan remains holistic and patient centred.