Strength Testing with the Leg Curl

assessment Feb 15, 2018

Why Is Hamstring Strength Important?

The hamstrings are a group of muscles comprising the biceps femoris (long and short heads), semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Together, these assist in various combinations to extend the hip, and flex and rotate the knee.

They are also especially important in walking, running, and participating in many forms of sport and exercise.

As the Hamstrings cross both the hip and knee joints (except for the short head of biceps femoris), they may be subject to higher rates of injury due to the increased joint interactions such as in athletic events requiring great degrees of acceleration, deceleration and lower limb strength (Wright, Delong, & Gehlsen, 1999).

Hamstring injuries are the most common non-contact injury throughout soccer, Australian Rules football, rugby union, track and field events, and American football (Maniar, Shield, Williams, Timmins, & Opar, 2016). 

Some things to consider with testing Hamstring strength:

  • Persistent deficits (10.3%+) in strength were in those with previous Hamstring Injury, these were detected 3 years post-injury (Charlton 2018).
  • Persistent deficits were found in 100% of players with a past Hamstring Injury comparing peak torque pre & post fatigue protocol (10 x 6 sec repeated sprint efforts). 
  • Those with previous Hamstring injury displayed 16% decrease in strength measures when fatigued vs healthy controls (Lord 2018).
  • Previous hamstring injury is the number one risk factor for subsequent injury (Verrall et al., 2001).
  • Deficits in hamstring isometric strength and range of motion, as measured by the leg curl test upon return to play, are independent predictors for hamstring re-injury (De Vos et al., 2014).
  • Reduced quadriceps-to-hamstrings maximal muscle strength ratio is linked to increased risk of lower limb injury (Evangelidis, Massey, Pain, & Folland, 2016)
  • 3-27% deficit of knee flexion strength found in those 2-3 years post ACL with hamstring graft (Arden 2010).

How To Assess Hamstring Strength Using Leg Curl Machine.

Testing the Hamstrings muscle group can be achieved easily with the prone leg curl machine that is commonly found in most settings.

After completing a generalized warm-up protocol, the patient lies face down and flexes the knees against a set resistance on the machine. The practitioner assessing the patient sets a consistent range of motion to be achieved usually using their hand position as a marker. Ensuring the full range of motion is completed in flexion and extension, the practitioner can measure the number of successful repetitions completed on each leg to compare for differences or deficiencies from side to side. 

Are you using Single-Leg Curl Testing with your patients and clients?

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