Nonuniform changes in MRI measurements of the thigh muscles after two hamstring strengthening exercises

J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):574-81. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825c2f38.


Although many different hamstring strengthening exercises exist, the effect on site specific activation of these exercises on different muscles of the leg is unclear. This study investigated the effects of the eccentric leg curl (LC) and lunge (L) exercises on the biceps femoris long head (BFl), biceps femoris short head (BFs), semitendinosus (ST), semimembranosus (SM), and adductor magnus (AM). Each leg of 11 male professional soccer players was randomly assigned to an LC or L exercise protocol (3 sets of 6 repetitions). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the subjects' thighs were performed before and 48 hours after the intervention. Fifteen axial scans of the thigh interspaced by a distance of 1/15 right femur length (Lf) were obtained. The fMRI data were analyzed for signal intensity changes. No significant changes were observed in absolute short tau inversion recovery values for the SM and BFs. Significant changes for the ST (∼21-45%) from sections 4 to 10, AM (∼2-13%) at section 4, and BFl (∼ -3 vs. 8%) at section 7 were noted. LC exercises load all the regions of the ST muscle. The L exercises load the proximal regions of the BFl and AM. These findings may have relevance when designing protocols for prevention and rehabilitation of hamstring injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology
  • Young Adult