Browsing Tag


Health, running, Thigh

Hamstring Injury – Role Biceps Femoris plays

• By

Hamstring injury happens frequently in running-based sports such as athletics, football, rugby etc. Over 80% of these occur in the outer hamstring when the leg is swinging through.

It is often thought that hamstrings are injured from changes in direction, pushing off and explosive movements but in reality, most hamstring injury happens when the leg is swinging through, just before the foot touches down.

Which Muscles are the Hamstrings?

Here is a quick few stats and anatomy refresher to ground you:

Hamstring injury

The hamstrings are made up of three muscles

  • The Biceps Femoris, which has two parts to it. The long head which cross’ both the hip and then knee joint and the short head which only crosses one joint
  • Semitendinosus that helps with hip and knee rotation as well as knee flexion
  • And Semimembranosus at the inner thigh that helps with hip extension and knee flexion

What is the cause of Hamstring injury?

Hamstring injury happens when any of these muscles get injured. It usually happens during a sudden strenuous movements which impact one of the hamstring muscles or any of the tendons.

Most hamstring injuries are thought to happen in late swing phase of running, just before the foot lands.

Hamstrings’ Function:

Check out the video below to see how the hamstring works in walking:

YouTube player

As you can see in the video, the hamstrings fire into action before, during and after the foot lands. At this point when the knee is extended, the muscle is working while at it’s peak length and at maximal force development working hard eccentrically to slow leg swing down.

What is eccentric contraction?

An eccentric contraction is where the muscle controls lengthening out, which is far harder on the muscle than a concentric contraction where it contracts to push-off.

Biceps Femoris’ role in Hamstring Injury

The Biceps Femoris long head (BFlonghead) is involved in almost 80% hamstring injuries.(1). So what is the link between the mechanism of hamstring injury described above and BFlonghead taking the brunt of injuries?

Recent studies have shown that the Biceps Femoris is more active when the hip is extending, rather than when the knee is flexing. Which means that BFlonghead has to work harder with eccentrically slowing the leg down as compared to other hamstring muscles.

This also means that exercises performed using knee flexion do not often strengthen Biceps Femoris as much as say Semitendinosus, which is more active in knee flexion where it works to bend the knee

nordic curls - hamstring rehab and strengthening exerciseA lot of hamstring strengthening is done at the knee (nordic curls, hamstring curls etc) which has been shown to be more the work of the medial hamstrings than Biceps Femoris.


Hamstring chair bridges

Credit irunfar.com

So there you have it, the BFlonghead of the hamstrings works harder eccentrically slowing down the momentum of the leg swinging forward and often gets missed in strengthening sessions – Stuck between a rock and a hard place!

This gives athletes and health professionals better guidance as to what rehab exercises to add in post injury and also in injury prevention programs depending on injury, leading to decreasing the nearly 30% re-injury rate.(1)

Click here to learn more about hamstring injury and find information about healing faster and stronger from it.

Health, Thigh

Hamstring exercises – How to prevent injury

• By

Hamstring strain - heal fast and strong with self treatmentHamstring strains are happening everyday AND over 12% re-injure within one year – That amounts to a lot of time if not the entire season out with injury.

Do not become a statistic.

I will show you how to keep your hamstring healthy with the best hamstring exercises that are quick and easy.

The worrying thing is that it is so easy to become another statistic. Hammy injuries happen all the time in sports that need high-speed running, change of direction and kicking. For example they make up a massive 37% of all muscle injuries in Footballers – This is far too much. Add to this the fact that; 12-43% of those re-injure their hamstrings… unfortunately you could be a statistic just waiting to happen.

In the first two posts in this hamstring series I told you:

What a hamstring tear is and how to treat it in the first 72 hours


How to heal strong and fast

Now this is how to keep you hamstring strong, flexible and pain-free. This is for anyone that has strained their hamstring in the past or doesn’t want to ever experience hamstring injury (so yes, every running athlete should be doing these).

Hamstring exercises for a healthy body:

1. Nordic Curls: This is the most important exercise in maintaining a healthy Hammy and should be done daily.

nordic curls - hamstring rehab and strengthening exercisePosition: Start on your knees, keeping your body straight from your knees to your shoulders.

Action: Bending at the knees slowly lower yourself forward (keeping your torso straight – do not bend at the hips) as far as you can – and then catch yourself with your arms.

Repeat: 3 sets of 8 reps.

Video: Here is a good video example.

Make sure to control yourself down as much as you can with your hamstrings – And yes they probably will cramp up so take a short break, stretch out and try again – it will get easier.

Hamstring stretch: A tight muscle is a weak muscle – You need your hamstring both strong and flexible so do this easy doorway stretch daily:

2. Hamstring doorway stretch

doorway stretchAction: Lying on your back place one leg up the door frame and the other straight out as shown.

You can adjust the stretch on your hammy by moving closer or further away from the doorway.

Tip – add more of a stretch by applying pressure to your knee.

Hold: For 1-2 minutes for each leg.


And that is it – Two exercises that you should be regularly doing to maintain a healthy hamstring. Not too hard is it? No, but it makes a huge difference.


Thanks for reading

Please comment, like and share!


Health, Thigh

Hamstring strain rehab – Heal fast and strong

• By

hamstring injuryRehabilitating a hamstring strain the right way means you heal faster, stronger AND re-injury is less likely. Following on from my first post in the series explaining hamstring injury and initial management, in this post we cover the hamstring strain rehab that:

  • Almost halves recovery time
  • Reduces re-injury by over 90%
  • And get you pain-free faster!

Just by doing the right rehab exercises at home!

Fortunately there has been some good research done on hamstring rehab in the last few years and one in particular in 2013 by Askling et al compared the effectiveness of two rehab protocols:

– The “C” protocol, which are the conventional rehab exercises

– The “L protocol” which is the eccentric Lengthening exercises

They found in this study that rehabilitating a hamstring strain using specific eccentric exercises has a significant improvement in healing time and there were no re-injuries in the year following by following the L-protocol and return to play guidelines.

This means:

  • Return to sport on average after 28 days vs 51 days for conventional exercises
  • Nearly 0% re-injury rate vs the usual 12%
  • Weeks off your recovery, not to mention the weeks if injured again.

So what are eccentric exercises?

Usually when exercising you may think about form, reps, sets and balancing out your routine but not always about what kind of muscle contraction you are doing.  And fair enough too, so here is the difference between concentric and eccentric muscle contraction:

Concentric: This is shortening of the muscle, where all the muscle fibers are drawing together. This is what most people would think of as a muscle contraction, eg a biceps curl.

Eccentric contraction: This is controlled lengthening of the muscle – putting the brakes on.  So the muscle has to work to control the muscle lengthening out – like lowering the weight back down after the biceps curl. This type of contraction actually creates a lot more force and acts and when used in rehabilitation acts to re-align the muscle or tendon fibers along the correct line of pull.

Hamstrings are most often injured during when slowing down your foot/leg swinging forward (putting the brakes on it before your heel touches down). During this action, your hamstrings are working eccentrically. So wouldn’t rehabilitating the muscle eccentrically be best to address the hamstring strain and the obvious weakness that was there? Yes!


So, let’s get to the rehab, to get you recovering faster and stronger with less re-injury:

*Before you start the L protocol: In the first 48-72 hours directly after an injury you should RICE it – see this post for more details

The L-protocol:

Note: The “L” stands for lengthening.

The following three exercises should be started 2-3 days after injury – Below they are demonstrated in videos (they may take a short time to load but, it is worth it to do the exercises right!) and photos as guidance courtesy of the BJSM website.

1. The Extender:

YouTube player


2. Diver

YouTube player


3. Glider:

YouTube player



Reps, sets and timing:

  • Extender: Two times daily, every day, 3 sets x 12 repetitions
  • Diver: Once every second day, 3 sets x 6 repetitions
  • Glider: Once every third day, 3 sets x 4 repetitions


How do you know if you are ready to return to sport?

When these two tests are negative then you can return to play:

hamstring lift off test1. Hamstring lift-off test:

Place your heel on a chair with knee bent as shown with your un-injured leg straight in the air. Pushing through your heel lift your bottom off the ground.

Compare to the other side

Negative test: Pain-free and equal on both sides.

ASLR2. Askling H-test:

Lying on your back , lift your injured leg up as fast as you can through full range.

Negative test: No pain OR apprehension. If there is apprehension, the rehab exercises need to be done for a further 3-5 days and re-tested.




So, if you have a hamstring strain – Get started on your rehab now, and get back to what you love faster. This isn’t just showed to work in the research, I have prescribed this protocol to my own patients, including football players and international level sprinters, and it does work.


Stay tuned for my next post on preventing hamstring strains – Because prevention is the best cure!

Please Share, like, follow and let me know how you get on!

Get 25% OFF all Rehab Guides for a limited time (use code: TAKE25)