Nordic Hamstring Curl
The Nordic Hamstring Curl, made famous in the Rocky IV movie where he fought the Soviet boxer, Drago, gets its common name from studies that have demonstrated protective benefits to athletes. In addition to reducing your risk of hamstring tears, and maybe even helping to repair torn hamstrings, it has been shown beneficial as a preventive exercise against non-contact ACL injuries. A lot of research has been done on this one exercise; see here, here and here.
Furthermore, since it’s a hard-core eccentric exercise, it alters the architecture of the muscle fibers such that it actually increases your hamstring flexibility...but not until you heal from the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness.)
My advice is to do the first few reps of a set with minimal motion – a few inches of head movement or degrees of knee angle change. Then you can start increasing the arc…carefully.
- Begin with a trusted partner holding your ankles while you kneel in a high-kneeling position on a padded surface.
- With a neutral spine, lower your body towards the floor by bending your knees only.
- Go only as far as you can, keeping your hips and back aligned (don’t allow the hips to flex) and still safely return to the starting position.
- Repeat 3-10 times, depending on .
- Muscles worked: primarily hamstrings; also many posterior and core muscles in order to maintain a neutral posture.
- Watch this video to see how it’s done before trying it yourself. It’s a very challenging exercise but it’s the only single exercise shown to reduce the risk of hamstring and ACL tears.