May 2016

fMRI study supports use of multiple exercises to prevent hamstring injury

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

A multicenter functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study indicates that no single exercise activates all of the hamstring and synergist muscles in professional soccer players, suggesting a combination of exercises may be optimal for hamstring injury prevention.

Investigators performed fMRI on 36 professional soccer players before and after performing four hamstring exercises: Nordic hamstring curl, flywheel leg curl, Russian belt, and conic-pulley exercise. Each exercise session included four sets of eight repetitions.

The flywheel leg curl was associated with the greatest increase in T2 contrast shift (indicating muscle activation) from pre- to postexercise: T2 increases were seen for the gracillis (95%), semitendinosis (65%), and the short (51%) and long (14%) heads of the biceps femoris. The Nordic hamstring curl was associated with increases in the gracillis (39%), semitendinosis (16%), and the short head of the biceps femoris (14%). The Russian belt exercise was the only one associated with an increase in the semimembranosis muscle (7%).

The findings were epublished in April by the International Journal of Sports Medicine.


Fernandez-Gonzalo R, Tesch PA, Linnehan RM, et al. Individual muscle use in hamstring exercises by soccer players assessed using functional MRI. Int J Sports Med 2016 Apr 26. [Epub ahead of print]

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