How To Reduce Hamstring Strains By Up To 70%

Hamstring injuries are incredibly common and are one of the leading non-contact injuries experienced by athletes across many sports. Not only are they a regular occurrence, but they also have one of the highest recurrence rates, with some reporting up to a 60% chance of reinjury within the first 12 months of returning to sport. 

Thanks to advances in research, this risk has gradually been on the decline in the professional sporting world because they have access to top medical advice. But what about our grassroots athletes?

Now that we are nearing the off-season and starting to get back into training and fitness, we’ve seen several athletes coming into the Townsville clinic with hamstring issues. 

Some quick hamstring anatomy: 

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles found on the back of your thigh, between the pelvis and knee.

 Their main role is to flex or bend the knee – sometimes very rapidly (e.g. sprinting)

Hamstring injuries occur most often under high amounts of “stretching” or lengthening force. For example, during the end phase of a stride, like in this image, or when kicking a football, or jumping a hurdle.


How can we reduce our hamstring strain risk? 

Several factors have been identified to increase the risk for hamstring injuries.

Put simply, what an injury is delivered by the simple fact that the involved muscle was not ready for the demands of that activity. Not ready at that time! The reasons can include:

  • fatigue or physical exhaustion,
  • weakness,
  • prior injury
  • tightness

Best exercises for your hamstring?

Over the years, many exercises and interventions have been studied to find a way to reduce the risk of such a common injury.  The Nordic Hamstring Curl exercise rose to popularity in 2011 after a study on ~1000 male Danish Soccer players found the exercise significantly reduces the incidence of hamstring injuries over a season by 70% when incorporated into their weekly training.

The claims of this study were further backed by an analysis in 2019 of 8,500 athletes across multiple sports such as Rugby, Baseball, AFL, and Soccer. This study reported hamstring injuries reduced by 51% when a Nordic Hamstring exercise protocol was introduced to their training. 

How To Do Nordic Hamstring Curls 

Nordic Hamstring Curls are performed in an upright kneeling position, keeping your thighs aligned with your trunk and slowly lowering your upper body toward the ground and back again.

This is impossible to perform without having your lower leg/ankles stabilised, therefore a training partner or use of some immovable object is necessary. The full version of this exercise is not recommended for those new to hamstring resistance training, however variations at lower intensity can be used to build up your strength (See video below for demonstration of first three levels). 

Levels of Nordic Hamstring Curls

  • Level 1 – Rocking 
  • Level 2 – Assisted (resistance band) 
  • Level 3 – Eccentric (lowering to land on hands – then push up) 
  • Level 4 – Full (lower torso down to within comfortable distance, then return to start) 
Physiotherapist Riley McDonald Demonstrates Nordic Curls for your hamstring.

How often should Nordic Curls be performed to reduce hamstring injury risk?

A 2018 study found that as little as 2 sets per week of 4-6 repetitions may be all that is needed.

Add this exercise into your leg day workout for injury prevention or simply just to improve your hamstring strength and health. We recommend doing this exercise along with Romanian Deadlifts. 

Do Not perform this exercise if you have recently injured your hamstring without advice from a physiotherapist.