The Most Effective Hamstring Injury Prevention Program

Hamstring injuries have been reported as one of the most common injuries across a variety of sports that involve repetitive kicking and/or high speed running, such as soccer, track and field, football, and rugby. Re-injury rates are also an issue affecting many athletes long term, with roughly 30% of athletes suffering a re-injury to the hamstring within the first year. In order to prevent hamstring injuries it is important to understand WHY they occur, and to develop a prevention program which targets these risk factors.

The hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles, the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus. Their main purpose is to bring the hip back and bend the knee. The majority of injuries to the hamstrings are strains to the biceps femoris long head muscle. Injury occurs mainly during sprinting, as the muscles contract eccentrically to decelerate the leg.

What are the Risk Factors?

Age
Unfortunately, the older you get, the higher your chance for hamstring injury. The age when the risk starts to significantly increase is 25 years old, with research suggesting a 30% increase in risk annually thereafter.

Decreased flexibility
Tight hamstrings aren’t the only problem; tight hip flexors and/or quads are also problematic.

Muscle Imbalance/weakness
Muscle imbalance within the lumbopelvic region and/or weakness in the hamstrings;

Previous injury
Previous injury to the hamstring, groin and/or knee.

The Most Effective Hamstring Prevention Program

Eccentric Strengthening Program
The majority of hamstring injuries occur during sprinting when the muscle is working eccentrically. As such, eccentric strengthening programs have been shown to decrease the risk of hamstring injury by 65-70%. The most popular and widely studied exercise for hamstring injury prevention is The Nordic Hamstring Exercise. We strongly encourage all at