Hamstring strains remain a challenge for athletes, coaches, and physical therapy professionals, given their high incidence rate, slow healing, and persistent symptoms. Additionally, as many as 1/3 of all hamstring injuries become re-injured within one year following the return to sport. Hamstring injuries are extremely debilitating and are far too common in sports that require sudden stops, accelerations, sprints and cuts such as basketball, track, football, soccer, and rugby.
The hamstrings group is made up three muscles: semi-membranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris and serve as knee flexors and hip extensors. Most strains and injuries to the hamstrings occur in the biceps femoris, which runs lateral to the semimembranosus and semitendinosus on the posterior thigh.
Both hip extension and knee flexion are important functions in athletic performance and should be trained concentrically and eccentrically for full injury prevention benefits. A great way to train the knee flexor function of the hamstrings is the eccentric leg curl (yes a machine!). Perform a seated or lying leg curl as you normally would with two legs but eccentrically lower the weight back to the starting position using only 1 leg. In addition, it is beneficial to perform this exercise with various foot angles i.e. toes in, toes out, and toes forward to negate injury risk in athletes with non-neutral foot positioning.
For a video demonstration for those of you who are visual here is a link of the eccentric leg curl. CLICK ME