May 29, 2023

The stats

  • Hamstring injuries are the most prevalent injury in the AFL (AFL injury report, 2015)
  • Incidence of hamstring strains increased on average 2.3% annually from 2001-2016 in professional European Soccer players (Ekstrand, Walden & Hagglund, 2016)
  • Most common injury in the AFL for the past 21 years (Hickey, Shield, Williams & Opar, 2013)


So why exactly are hamstring injuries so common?

Sports that involve top end running speeds are where we see most of our hamstring strain injuries. In particular, sports involving rapid acceleration and deceleration phases or movements put you at greater risk. Such sports include AFL, soccer, basketball, cricket, rugby etc. The list goes on. When we look at the anatomical level these extrinsic risk factors start to make more sense.


Two of the biggest intrinsic risk factors for hamstring injury are:

  1. Insufficient eccentric muscle strength
  2. Reduced muscle fascicle length


Lets look at that first point - Rapid acceleration and deceleration involve heavy eccentric muscle loading. This is where our muscle is lengthening while under load. If our muscles are not strong enough eccentrically to control the movement then injury can occur from overstretching of the muscle fibres.

Point number 2 – If our muscle fibers are shorter, they can undergo less excursion before they reach their yield point. This is the point beyond which further stress will lead to fiber stretching and tearing.


These two factors can begin to be addressed via eccentric strength training which is where a lot of focus has gone in recent years.


Eccentric muscle loading has been proven to improve both fascicle length and eccentric muscle strength.

The best way to commence an effective eccentric loading program is to know exactly how strong you are so that your training can be prescribed optimally.


A lot of time, money and research has gone into finding a way that we can safely, accurately and easily measure levels of eccentric hamstring strength. The development that has come out the other end is called the NordBord.


The NordBord utilises force transducers throughout the Nordic hamstring exercise to very quickly and accurately measure exactly how much eccentric force an athlete can create.


What exactly can this data tell us?

  • Comparison to normative data – this will tell us where you rank on average compared to other athletes. This gives a good indication if you are likely to injure your hamstring before it even occurs
  • Limb to limb discrepancies – the data tells us exactly how much force each hamstring can create. Having strength discrepancies is yet another injury risk factor
  • When you are ready to return to sport/competition – when your injured hamstring has reached a certain level/percentage of the uninjured side we can make an informed decision about returning to sport. Taking the guess work out of the equation will significantly decrease your chance of reinjury.


Are you an athlete who:

  1. Has had a previous hamstring injury?
  2. Has had recurrent hamstring injury, tightness or niggles?
  3. Wants to prevent a hamstring injury before it even occurs?


You should be using a NordBord to guide your training along the path to optimal performance. Book an appointment with an OHL Physiotherapist for an assessment and management plan before you spend all of 2023 on the bench!

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