Protecting & Strengthening Young Athlete's Hamstrings, Viking Style

Hamstring injuries. The bane of many people's existence. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone take full flight only to pull up clutching a hamstring, or go down like they’ve been hit by a sniper. And what’s worse yet, we can prevent many hamstrings in young athletes by prioritising their strength, flexibility, and health

Hamstring Injury - The Youth Academy

I remember both of them like they happened yesterday. I was 15, and we were at a Rep Newcastle Baseball Training session as we prepped for the upcoming NSW championships. We were doing some sprint conditioning at the end of the session, and on the second last one, BAM, I felt it tear

I’d done a grade two of my right hamstring and was out for 4-6 weeks. The worst news, State Champs were in 4… I rehabbed myself as best I could and took the field at State Champs with hesitation in my mind. But nothing bad happened and we won those Championships in a great final

Hamstring injuries are far too prevalent today for something that can be trained to be alleviated. Studies are showing that 10-20% of all injuries across a huge variety of sports are hamstring related - an alarming rate for something that can be quite easily prevented w/ proper stretching, warm-up & recovery principles

Here at The Youth Academy, we have a key component (amongst others) that we love to utilise to prepare and strengthen all of our young athletes hamstrings for the rigorous demands of their sport
 

Enter The Nordic Hamstring Curl

These are so good that even Thor does them… and the reason we love them so much is that due to the predominantly eccentric nature of the movement, the hamstrings length is increased, as well as a shift of the maximal strength toward where the muscle lengths are longer - believed to be of vital importance in sport

These are so powerful a weapon to add to any hamstring builder/strengthening arsenal, that studies have shown it to easily outperform more traditional hamstring movements such as the lead curl, stiff legged deadlift, good morning, and squat

How To Perform

Personally, we love partner assisted NHC’s - whereby the athlete performing the movements assumes a kneeling position, and a partner holds their feet/ankles down with a lot of pressure. From here, the athlete performing the movement begins to “fall” forward, keeping the hips/pelvis forward and begins to engage the hamstrings/glutes to fight gravity. When the athlete cannot “fight” any longer, they drop under control, and explosive push themselves back up, ensuring to keep the hips/pelvis forward and engaging the hamstrings and glutes at the very top

An Alternative: Adding Banded Resistance

Using a band is a great alternative, and helps to remove a "fast fall” toward the ground - which decreases muscle activity. The addition of the band helps slow this descent and allows better hamstring activation throughout the entirety of the movements range of motion

 

Start low in reps and low in sets, and gradually build your volume and intensity up over time, as these will be humbling from the start & we do not want to over-stress the hamstrings :)

Nick Maier