Hamstring Injuries

NOTE: This is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Hamstring injuries are commonplace in the game of soccer. Players who have experienced them during their careers can attest that such injuries can be long standing and reoccurring. The shear nature of the game requires explosive movements and quick changes of direction, asking the body to produce great amounts of force in very little time.

The cause of a hamstring injury is often the result of multiple factors, both intrinsic (within the body) and extrinsic (environmental). The latter is unfortunately out of a player’s control, although selecting proper footwear per field condition is important for both performance and injury prevention. Intrinsic factors can include poor overall strength & strength imbalances between legs, fatigue and decreased flexibility.

During a soccer match, your hamstrings are required to wear multiple hats as they function to control knee extension eccentrically (through controlled lengthening of the tissue) and for rapid concentric (shortening of the muscle) bursts of hip extension for propulsion. They also play a large role in joint stability. These constant changes from one function to the next leave the hamstrings vulnerable to injury. In a flash, the intensity and force required by a player’s actions can surpass the mechanical limits tolerated by the muscle tissue and injury ensues.

Through proper strength training and conditioning, players can drastically improve their bodies’ ability to stave off such injuries. Here are several exercises that when added to your training can assist in improving function and health of your hamstrings.

Ball Bridging

Ball Bridging

  • Lying on your back, place the soles of your feet on a small exercise ball
  • Tighten your abdominals and glutes while lifting your hips off the floor
  • Use your hamstrings to keep the ball close and your hips high
  • Sustain this position for at least 10 seconds before returning to the start
  • Do 2 to 3 steps of 10 repetitions

Walking Lunges with Rotation

Walking Lunges with Rotation

  • Perform a standard lunge
  • With a soccer or medicine ball, simultaneously rotate your torso over your lead leg
  • Use your lead leg to then propel your body into the next lunge, repeating the sequence to the opposite side
  • Continue this for about 30 feet
  • Repeat 4 to 6 times

Staggered Zig-Zags

Staggered Zig-Zags 1

Staggered Zig-Zags 2

  • Stagger multiple cones at least 10 yards apart from each other for a distance roughly 50 feet long
  • Sprint to the first cone at full speed
  • Rapidly change directions sprinting to the next cone and continue on down the course trying to maintain the same speed
  • Make sure to remain on the balls of your feet and never drag your foot as you change directions
  • Once the course is completed, jog back to the beginning and repeat
  • Do 4 to 6 sets

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring Stretch

  • Stand with your feet comfortably about shoulder width apart
  • Keeping your knees extended, slowly reach down towards the floor
  • Sustain the stretch for at least 30 seconds
  • Try 3 repetitions
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