Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nordic Hamstring Curl question

Rob asks:
"I am strength coach who uses this exercises, and dont fully understand why you are saying this is not a good exercise.
Also, what do you use/recommend to use instead of this exercise?
Are you also against Glute/Ham Raises, Physioball Leg Curls, and Slide Board Leg Curls."
- Thanks for the great question Rob. In upright function, the hamstrings work as the reins on a horse. With assistance from the soleus, they EXTEND the knee, not flex it; they work DYNAMICALLY at the hip, not isometically; they accelerate or decelerate rotation about the knee (depending on what phase of gait you are in). In the nordic leg curl, half the knee (tibia) is fixed to the ground.

No, I don't use the other exercises very much either. Maybe after an ART session. Remember, the hamstrings- like other muscles, are stimulated by ground, gravity, and momentum. You don't get that with those exercises.
Not to say YOU are wrong. As a matter of fact, Bosch & Klomp use the nordic leg curl in their running book. I don't get it though, I don't feel it fits in with their model of running physiology. One thing I was critical of in the book was the disconnect between theory & conditioning.


JH said...


Love the analogy of the hammys like the reins of a horse. That's a lot simpler than the way I've been trying to explain it to folks.

Do the hams actually perform knee extension or do they control the rate in which extension occurs? I was under the impression that the calf extends the knee as a result of plantarflexion?

How does that change comparing walking to sprinting for example?

Joe Przytula said...

1. In walking/Running, they assist both; in kicking the latter.
2. Soleus slows tib down so femur can catch up, gastroc may act as upside down hamstring.
3. All depends on who you listen to- not at all or everything.

sls said...

What is your stance on this exercise and the use of it in the PEP program for ACL Prevention?
They call it russian hamstrings but it is the same exercise.

Joe Przytula said...

I thought the "alternative" program they designed to "prevent boredom" was much better. There was a little bit of "shot gunning" going on, I think. I aluded to this in a previous post.

Rob said...

What exercises would you use instead of the nordic leg curl, and why?