Hamstring strains are one of the most common injuries in sport, and are a very common presentation to any sports physio clinic. There has been a tonne of research done on the risk factors, best management and prevention strategies, however they still are one of the most commonly recurring injuries. The reccurence rate after straining your hammy has been reported to be as high as 34%, which is an extremely worrying statistic.
There are many factors in play which will influence recovery, but the most important aspect of rehabilitation following any muscle injury is re-building strength in the injured tissue.
Hamstring strains occur when the muscle is lengthening (e.g. in your running stride, kicking a football, dancing/gymnasts in stretched positions etc.), so it is important to consider this in your strengthening program and incorporate eccentric exercises. Eccentric exercise involves the muscle contracting as it lengthens (rather than your standard hamstring curls which would be shortening the muscle – a concentric exercise).
So what is an effective way to do this?
The Nordic hamstring protocol is a 10-week hamstring strengthening protocol utilising an exercise called a “Nordic Drop”. Nordic drops, as prescribed in the 10-week program, have been found to reduce the incident of hamstring strains in soccer players by 60%, and reduce the reccurence rate by a whopping 85%.
So how do we do a nordic drop?
-Kneel down and get a partner to hold onto your ankles.
-Allow yourself to fall forward, and resist you fall for as long as possible using your hamstrings.
-Put your arms out to catch yourself once you’ve let go, and spring back to the starting position.
It is important to note that this is quite an aggressive exercise, and should only be implemented in the final stages of rehab, or more appropriately in the pre-season.
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM