MRI-Based Regional Muscle Use during Hamstring Strengthening Exercises in Elite Soccer Players

<div><p>The present study examined site-specific hamstring muscles use with functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in elite soccer players during strength training. Thirty-six players were randomized into four groups, each performing either Nordic hamstring, flywheel leg-curl, Russian belt or the hip-extension conic-pulley exercise. The transverse relaxation time (T<sub>2</sub>) shift from pre- to post-MRI were calculated for the biceps femoris long (BFl) and short (BFs) heads, semitendinosus (ST) and semimembranosus (SM) muscles at proximal, middle and distal areas of the muscle length. T<sub>2</sub> values increased substantially after flywheel leg-curl in all regions of the BFl (from 9±8 to 16±8%), BFs (41±6–71±11%), and ST (60±1–69±7%). Nordic hamstring induced a substantial T<sub>2</sub> increase in all regions of the BFs (13±8–16±5%) and ST (15±7–17±5%). T<sub>2</sub> values after the Russian belt deadlift substantially increased in all regions of the BFl (6±4–7±5%), ST (8±3–11±2%), SM (6±4–10±4%), and proximal and distal regions of BFs (6±6–8±5%). T<sub>2</sub> values substantially increased after hip-extension conic-pulley only in proximal and middle regions of BFl (11±5–7±5%) and ST (7±3–12±4%). The relevance of such MRI-based inter- and intra-muscle use in designing more effective resistance training for improving hamstring function and preventing hamstring injuries in elite soccer players should be explored with more mechanistic studies.</p></div>