Ignore the clickbait inspired title. You may recall from previous post that ACL tears are a bit of problem in grappling and MMA especially in females. I’ve spoken before about the need for direct hamstring work when it comes to helping athletes prevent and bounce back from knee injuries and growing body of evidence is starting to support this.
Hamstring work is such a crucial part of the puzzle to prevent knee injuries, ask anyone who grapples regularly and they’ll tell you how much hamstring involvement there is. Where as there is involvement in running cutting and jumping found in field sports, grappling often requires active hamstring ‘squeeze’ to finish many techniques. To put it simply stronger hamstrings may help your jiujitsu!
Taking it up a notch is direct hamstring work, which involves mainly knee flexion where you’ll feel it in the distal part of hamstring (closest to knee) where as many movements like deadlifts and swings work hamstrings mainly as a hip-extensor where people often feel proximal part working (closest to the hip). A lot of athletes get part of the puzzle right and do heavy hip hinges. We use a lot of heavy eccentric romainian deadlifts for instance. I’ve seen in the past very ‘strong’ athletes suddenly pull up with hamstring cramp when trying to finish a triangle or reverse shrimp, because they struggle with techniques demanding strong knee flexion. Again direct hamstring knee flexion work is crucial.
While you have a lot of choice in hamstring exercises if we look at ‘Intensity based hamstring exercises classification’ see pic below by Yann Le Meur. And one exercise comes out on top the humble slide curl. I’ve been using it a lot especially with my female grapplers who risk higher incedence of ACL injuries so it’s important we add this.
Below is a hamstring curl using a folded scramble grip trainer on smooth lifting platform, if your gym mats are smooth enough you could do it with any material that is low friction. When I spoke about the grapplers 5 before we could probably add this instead of the partner GHR. In athletes who’s hamstrings are lacking we’ll prioritise this and perform it 2-3 times per week for fairly high volumes (10-15 reps per set). The slide is a good test in itself of how strong your hamstrings are. Start with two legs and progress to one.
The body slide is another way of approaching this.
I sometimes find very heavy athletes really struggle with slide hamstring curl variations which can get a bit ‘crampy’. Below is the ball curl which can be later progressed to the slide curl.
This is an ongoing series of blog posts from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through, who works with UFC, Cagewarriors and other high level combat athletes based in Chelmsford, UK. Facebook