Nordic hamstring exercise (NHE) has been widely employed to prevent hamstring strain injuries. However, it is still not clear which adaptations are responsible for the NHE preventive effects.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of NHE on knee flexors eccentric strength and fascicle length.
The search strategy included MEDLINE, PEDro, and Cochrane CENTRAL from inception to April 2020. Randomized clinical trials that have analyzed the effects of NHE training on hamstring eccentric strength and/or fascicle length were included.
From the 1932 studies identified, 12 were included in the systematic review, and 9 studies presented suitable data for the meta-analysis. All studies demonstrated strength increments in response to NHE training (10%-15% and 16%-26% in tests performed on the isokinetic dynamometer and on the NHE device, respectively), as well as significant enhancement of biceps femoris long head fascicle length (12%-22%). Meta-analysis showed NHE training was effective to increase knee flexors eccentric strength assessed with both isokinetic tests (0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.29 to 1.06) and NHE tests (1.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.62 to 1.61). NHE training was also effective to increase fascicle length (0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.46 to 1.48).
NHE training has the potential of increasing both knee flexors eccentric strength and biceps femoris long head fascicle length.