Nordic Hamstring Lowers – A Magic Pill? [Part 2]

After 7 years of letting this old blog collect dust on the bookshelf of the internet, I wanted to share some additional thoughts.

Nordics aren’t magic, they are convenient. They are convenient due to their low technical barrier [everyone can do them with little instruction]. They are convenient in a group setting because you don’t need expensive equipment or large quantities of equipment. They are convenient because if you have a product with load cells you have hard concrete data to present.

Do they “work”? Yes, I think there is enough research to say that there is something to them.

Are they the only thing that works? No.

Are they what works best? Maybe – but for many underdeveloped athletic populations I would venture to say no.

Regardless of whether they fit your methodology or not we must remember that everything works in combination. Just because a program has nordics in the same set/rep scheme like the research does, doesn’t mean the outcome will be the same. Planning nordics, but leaving the rest of the “workout card” blank doesn’t really help anyone.

Hamstring Injury Prevention for Elite Soccer Players: A Real-World Prevention Program Showing the Effect of Players’ Compliance on the Outcome Souhail Chebbi et. al.

A great visual from this study that looked to answer the question of compliance in a NHE intervention and the effect on injury. The control group (granted small each year, n ≤ 2) who did 0 nordics the entire season had NO injuries. If it were as easy as “do nordics”, we wouldn’t be seeing this trend.

In addition to this, in 2016/2017, the year the intervention ceased, the team had 5 hamstring injuries. The injury rate in the non-intervention year is in line with other years they actually did the intervention. You can’t really say “the strength and adaptations carried over to the last year” because they had a few additional hamstring injuries in what seemed to be a preseason period in the 3 intervention years that they excluded from the study for whatever reason.

Again, this begs the question of this being the most effective method for performance and injury risk? Maybe. Maybe not.

As I mention in the 2013 post, maybe it doesn’t matter what exercise is chosen and what matters is the general development of eccentric hamstring strength. I want to expand on that. Exercise selection and progression DOES MATTER, but understanding how training elements fit together is one of the most important pieces in performance and injury risk. Certainly, there needs to be a level of precision and detail in every single line item, but more importantly the precision at which we combine training elements to complement one another.

We want a situation where at the end of the day, week, month, etc., the sum is greater than the individual parts.

Published by John Grace

John is a performance coach, specializing in the development of speed, power, and strength, with experience coaching in professional soccer at the national and international level and in weightlifting at the junior, university, and senior national level and masters international level. Along with this professional and national level coaching, he has coached athlete's in a variety of semi-professional sports as well as Division I, II, and III athletics. With more than a decade of extensive coaching experience, he aims to provide an unparalleled training experience.

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