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Preventing hamstring strains

Preventing hamstring strains

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS CKTP, CGFI


I see a handful of runners and soccer players, and it’s pretty common that they get hamstring strains during one of their activities.  It’s usually during a quick burst of speed or direction during a game or practice, or change of running incline or running load during training runs.

I’ve written about tendonitis and the benefits of stretching before, and I’ve touched on eccentric strengthening as well.  In a recent article in the New York Times entitled, “The Great Hamstring Saver”, they talk about an eccentric exercise that can strengthen your hamstrings and prevent your risk of getting a hamstring strain.  It’s called the Nordic Hamstring exercise (I’ve called it a Russian Hamstring curl).  The NYTimes references an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and the American Journal of Sports Medicine that investigated eccentric hamstring strengthening and its relationship with decreasing hamstring injuries.

Both studies found the the Nordic Hamstring exercise decreased the number of hamstring injuries in soccer players.  It works because eccentric strengthening exercises specifically strengthen ligament and tendon tissue by generating more tension and force through the muscle tissue than compared to concentric or isometric exercise.

I frequently prescribe this type of exercise for my patient with a muscle strain or tendonitis.  This type of exercise puts a lot more strain on the muscle and tendon tissue, so I recommend low number of reps / sets, and allowing adequate time for recovery between bouts of performing this exercise.  Depending on your injury and strength, you should start with 3 sets of 5 repetitions and the work up from there.

As always, consult a medical professional before you start any new exercise protocol.  If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.


Photo courtesy of Ambro /

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