Hamstring Pulls: Nordic ham curl

Soccer season is upon us and with it comes the beginning of hamstring injuries. We are only a couple of weeks in and I have already had three fairly serious hamstring pulls limp through my door.

All three guys were involved in off-season conditioning programs at their local gyms. In this post I am not going to rant about under qualified trainers and their training programs, but I am going to say that sometimes the effort that gets put into avoiding injuries, can actually be the cause of some of these injuries. The nordic hamstring curl is an exercise that has been implemented with great frequency thanks to the millions of training clips on youtube. The problem is that most people have no idea why they are doing this exercise. The fact is that the nordic hamstring curl places a great deal of stress on the distal hamstring ( the portion near the knee) and needs to be performed with caution.

When you take a soccer player, or anyone that runs for that matter, you need to understand what the hamstring does. First, when you are in the mid stance through to the toe off phase, the hamstring works to extend the hip. Second, when contacting the ground the hamstring is responsible for deceleration of the lower leg. These two actions are soooooo different from what you are teaching the brain to do during a nordic hamstring curl, that it causes a great deal of  brain confusion and can ultimately lead to a hamstring injury.

A proper understanding of the sport and the neural, biomechanic and physiologic demands of the sport, needs to be understood in order to put a proper training program together.  It takes a little more than clicking on youtube videos for various muscle groups. For those of you that haven’t seen the nordic ham curl, it wasn’t very hard to find. I’m not saying “DONT DO IT” but there should be some sort of disclaimer attached to it saying, “Performing the nordic ham curl places a great deal of stress on the distal hamstring and needs to be performed with extreme caution.”


About physicalprep

Daniel Gallucci is providing therapy and exercise physiology at the Institute of Sports Medicine. Appointments to reach him can be made by calling 416 620 6861.
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