Hamstring injuries are a common sports medicine injury treated in our Boulder Physical Therapy practice. These injuries can be placed in two categories: acute trauma often related to sprinting and cutting movements or repetitive stress and overload to the hamstring often found in athletes with weak gluteus muscles. In our previous blog posts, we have described the importance of gradual loading of the injured hamstring to promote an optimal healing (remodeling) response, as well as, utilizing a hamstring strengthening program to reduce the risk of future hamstring injury. A recent article sheds light on common exercises used to strengthen the hamstring and how these different exercises target the 3 muscles which make up the hamstring.
Messer and colleagues studied the hamstrings of active women without a history of lower limb injury (JOSPT. 2018). All participants underwent a MRI both before and after performing eccentric (lengthening) contractions of the hamstrings on both of the exercises pictured above. Muscle activation levels were calculated based on changes between the two MRI images. The authors reported both exercises targeted the inner (medial) hamstring muscle, but the commonly utilized nordic hamstring exercise more evenly recruited all 3 hamstring muscles.