Injury can be caused by a weakness in the muscle. This weakness can be caused by several factors such as muscle-strength imbalance, poor flexibility, muscle fatigue, inadequate warm-up, previous strain/poor rehabilitation. The hamstring muscles are made up of three muscles together, the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. The majority of HSI occurs in the long head of the biceps femoris muscle and is when the muscles need to contract eccentrically with a large amount of force, and it can be at this point when the muscle can become torn or damaged due to microscopic damage to muscle fibers and if eccentric contractions continue, these microscopic areas of damage may provide a point of weakness from which a major tear may occur. At amateur level sport, preventative measures may not be that commonly used but at an elite level, the financial implications of losing a key player can hugely influence a team’s season.
There are specific exercise programs available that sports clubs may use to reduce the risk of an HSI occurring. One method that has been supported by evidence to help reduce the risk of HSI is the Nordic Hamstring Exercise (NHE). This exercise can be done without equipment, which is a major benefit of using it at a lower level of sport.
The exercise has been proven to strengthen the hamstring muscles in an eccentric contraction and research has shown that when used in a regular exercise program HSI’s are reduced by 50%. Using this exercise is not a guarantee that there will be no injury to the hamstring but it does reduce the risk by a significant number. There are other benefits to using the NHE such as increasing speed and explosiveness. However, the NHE has also been met with a negative response from elite teams as they suggest that they prefer other methods to strengthen the muscle as the NHE protocol can show concern towards fatigue and in some cases can actually be the cause of HSI.
There is no exercise that can strengthen the body enough so that muscle injuries do not occur but through full range of motion strength and exercise we can make the body more resilient to reduce the risk of injury. Yoga and Pilates are great for this, especially when an athlete or anyone, who participates in sport wishes to continue competing in the sport they love.
If you struggle with your hamstring then contact us we have a great rehabilitation programme to help you combat that hamstring niggle.