Reducing Hamstring Injuries with Eccentric Exercises in 10 Weeks

May 17, 2017

Several studies show that eccentric exercises can reduce the risk of getting hamstring injuries. Hamstring injuries are, unfortunately, both common and painful. They affect almost every sort of athlete. In a hamstring strain, one or more of these muscles become overloaded. Sometimes, they might even start to tear.

What is a Muscle Strain?

A muscle strain is sometimes referred to as muscle pull. Muscle strains often happen during lengthening contractions, when the muscle is active.

If it is severe, it can lead to a muscle tear. The tearing can also cause damage to small blood vessels, resulting in local bleeding and pain.

The hamstring muscles are commonly at risk for strains because they cross both the hip and knee joints. These muscles are also used for high-speed activities.

How Does Eccentric Exercises Help?

In a 2001 paper written by Brockett et al., eccentric actions have been implicated to cause hamstring injuries. It makes sense that improving the eccentric function of the hamstring may reduce hamstring injury risk.

In a 2004 study, Woods et al. suggested that injury occurs during movements involving sprinting and stretching, that is combined with hip flexion and knee extension.

In a 2011 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine involving 942 Danish male soccer players, 50 professional and amateur soccer teams were allocated to an intervention group (461 players) or a control group (481 players). The players in the intervention group underwent a progressive eccentric training program for 10 weeks and followed by a weekly seasonal program.

On the other hand, the control group underwent their usual training program.

Fifty-two acute hamstring injuries were registered in the control group whilst 15 injuries were registered in the intervention group. The overall acute hamstring injury rates per 100 players were 3.8 vs. 13.1. Results suggested that additional eccentric hamstring exercise reduced the rate of acute hamstring injuries.

Ebben et al. (2006) have suggested that Nordic hamstring exercises activate hamstrings better compared to many other commonly used hamstring exercises.

Research by Camargo et al. (2014) showed that eccentric training improves connective tissue strength because it promotes collagen production. Eccentric movements improve blood flow, promote healing, and increase strength.

Eccentric exercises also lengthen the muscle-tendon unit, increasing flexibility and range of motion. In rehabilitation, these exercises are extremely useful.

Why Do You Need to See a Physiotherapist?

Prevention is better than cure and if a hamstring injury had struck you, a program of eccentric hamstring exercises such as yo-yo curl or Nordic hamstring exercises may reduce your likelihood of getting hamstring strains again.

However, keep in mind that eccentric exercises can potentially impede recovery if undertaken too soon, performed improperly, or progressed too quickly. Also, take into consideration that recurrent hamstring injuries are often a symptom of underlying causes which needed to be addressed to allow full recovery.

If you are suffering from a hamstring injury or want to take measures to prevent such a problem, seek advice from our Perth physiotherapist. Our team at Happy Physio can help integrate eccentric exercises into your training program as well as sort out its contributing factors.

Call us today on 92727359 to book an appointment!


  • Brockett CL, Morgan DL, Proske U. Human hamstring muscles adapt to eccentric exercise by changing optimum length. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2001 May;33(5):783-90.
  • Woods, C., Hawkins, R.D., Maltby, S., Hulse, M., Thomas, A. & Hodson, A. (2004) The Football Association Medical Research Programme: an audit of injuries in professional football – analysis of hamstring injuries. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 36-41.
  • Petersen J, Thorborg K, Nielsen MB, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Hölmich P. Preventive effect of eccentric training on acute hamstring injuries in men’s soccer: a cluster-randomized controlled trial. Am J Sports Med. 2011 Nov;39(11):2296-303.
  • Ebben WP, Leigh DH, Long N, Clewien R, Davies JA. Electromyographical analysis of hamstring resistance training exercises. In: Proceeding of the XXIV International Symposium of the Society of Biomechanics in Sports. 2006 Jul 15 Salzburg (Austria): University of Salzburg, 2006; 236–239
  • Camargo PR, Alburquerque-Sendín F, Salvini TF. Eccentric training as a new approach for rotator cuff tendinopathy: Review and perspectives. World Journal of Orthopedics. 2014;5(5):634-644.