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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 117, Issue 5, pp 943–953 | Cite as

The effect of Nordic hamstring strength training on muscle architecture, stiffness, and strength

  • Kayla D. Seymore
  • Zachary J. Domire
  • Paul DeVita
  • Patrick M. Rider
  • Anthony S. Kulas
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Hamstring strain injury is a frequent and serious injury in competitive and recreational sports. While Nordic hamstring (NH) eccentric strength training is an effective hamstring injury-prevention method, the protective mechanism of this exercise is not understood. Strength training increases muscle strength, but also alters muscle architecture and stiffness; all three factors may be associated with reducing muscle injuries. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of NH eccentric strength training on hamstring muscle architecture, stiffness, and strength.

Methods

Twenty healthy participants were randomly assigned to an eccentric training group or control group. Control participants performed static stretching, while experimental participants performed static stretching and NH training for 6 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention measurements included: hamstring muscle architecture and stiffness using ultrasound imaging and elastography, and maximal hamstring strength measured on a dynamometer.

Results

The experimental group, but not the control group, increased volume (131.5 vs. 145.2 cm3, p < 0.001) and physiological cross-sectional area (16.1 vs. 18.1 cm2, p = 0.032). There were no significant changes to muscle fascicle length, stiffness, or eccentric hamstring strength.

Conclusions

The NH intervention was an effective training method for muscle hypertrophy, but, contrary to common literature findings for other modes of eccentric training, did not increase fascicle length. The data suggest that the mechanism behind NH eccentric strength training mitigating hamstring injury risk could be increasing volume rather than increasing muscle length. Future research is, therefore, warranted to determine if muscle hypertrophy induced by NH training lowers future hamstring strain injury risk.

Keywords

Eccentric Intervention Injury prevention Biomechanics Ultrasound Dynamometry 

Abbreviations

ANOVA

Analyses of variance

BFLH

Biceps femoris long head

ICC

Intraclass correlation

LOA

Limits of agreement

NH

Nordic hamstring

PCSA

Physiological cross-sectional area

ROI

Region of interest

SEM

Standard error of the mean

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kayla D. Seymore
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zachary J. Domire
    • 1
  • Paul DeVita
    • 1
  • Patrick M. Rider
    • 1
  • Anthony S. Kulas
    • 2
  1. 1.Kinesiology DepartmentEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Education and PromotionEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Orthopaedic and Biomechanics ResearchBoise State UniversityBoiseUSA

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