Hamstring injuries are some of the most common non-contact injuries in sports including soccer, rugby league, rugby union and AFL. Over the past decade hamstring injuries have risen significantly, representing 12-17% of total injuries. In soccer, hamstring injuries represent between 15-50% of all muscle injuries, making a prevention protocol an absolute must! However, even with preventative protocols re-injury rates are still high at 12-33%, with a previous tear being the greatest risk factor for a future tear.
With pre-season training just beginning there is no better time than now to add in the best proven exercise for reducing hamstring injury rates. That exercise is the nordic hamstring curl. A systematic review and meta analysis by Attar et.al (2016) concluded that soccer teams using injury prevention programs that included the nordic hamstring curl reduced hamstring injury rates by up to 51% in the long term compared with teams that only used regular warm-ups and training programs.
If you have ever tried this exercise you’ll know just how hard it is. Below are progressions to get you doing your first nordic hamstring curl without any assistance. Some gyms have a piece of equipment called a “glute ham raise machine”, this is a very similar exercise to a Nordic so this may be an option for some, otherwise don’t worry as the below exercises can be performed at most regular gyms.
Resistance band Nordic
- Loop a power band around your torso and tie it to something that wont move e.g power rack, loaded barbell
- Knees should be bent and on a soft surface e.g foam pad, bosu ball
- Tuck your heels under a heavy loaded barbell so they wont move
- Keep your back straight and slowly lower your body towards the floor for as long as you can, then use your hands to push yourself back up
Lat pull down Nordic
- Set the lat pull down machine to an appropriate weight to help control your body weight on the way down
- Place a bosu ball on the seat if it is too narrow
- Lock feet under leg guard
- Place hands on lat pull down bar and slowly lower your body down
High bench Nordic
- Set up a bench at an appropriate height to limit your range of motion
- Place steps or plates under the bench if it is still too low
- Lower slowly and use your hands to push yourself back up from the bench
- Note: will need a partner to hold your legs on the ground
- Similar to the above but can be done at home
- Place a pillow under your knees, and set yourself up at an appropriate distance from the couch – closer will decrease range making it easier
- If needed multiple pillows could be placed on the couch to decrease range further
- Set up as as above (resistance band Nordic section)
- Lower yourself slowly towards the ground, push off from the floor using your hands
- When this becomes too easy, lower down – pause – then return to the start position
- Weight can be added if needed by holding a plate or dumbbell
If you need further assistance or are new to the gym environment it is a good idea to have your Physio look at your nordic technique and make sure you are on the right path. Book in to see one of our Sports Physios at Bend + Mend and get the most out of your training.