Changes in rectus femoris architecture induced by the reverse nordic hamstring exercises

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2019 Apr;59(4):640-647. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.08873-4. Epub 2018 Oct 1.


Background: Injuries and mechanical stimuli alter the muscle architecture and, therefore, its function. The changes in the architecture of the rectus femoris (RF) induced by an eccentric training protocol with reverse nordic hamstring exercises (RNHE) have never been studied. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to determine the architectural adaptations of the RF after an eccentric training with RNHE, followed by a subsequent detraining period.

Methods: Twenty-six subjects performed a first week of control, 8 weeks of eccentric training, concluding with a 4-week period of detraining. The architectural characteristics of the RF were evaluated using 2D ultrasound at rest (pretest: week 1), after the training (post-test: week 9), and at the end of the detraining period (retest: week 13).

Results: At the end of the training period, a significant increase in the muscle fascicle length (FL) (t=-8.96, d=2.22, P<0.001), muscle thickness (MT) (t=-8.76, d=2.219, P<0.001), pennation angle (PA) (t=-9.83, d=2.49, P<0.05) and cross-sectional area (CSA) (t=-13.06, d=3.06, P<0.001) was observed. After the detraining period FL, MT, PA and CSA showed a significant decrease.

Conclusions: The eccentric training with RNHE may cause changes in the architectural conditions of RF, which, in addition, are also reversible after a 4-week detraining period. The adaptations produced by RNHE may have practical implications for injury prevention and rehabilitation programs, which include the changes in muscle architecture variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Hamstring Muscles / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Quadriceps Muscle / anatomy & histology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / diagnostic imaging
  • Resistance Training*
  • Rest
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult