This guide has been born out of our 13 years experience in working with and treating footballers aches, pains and injuries. From Sunday league to professional players we’ve helped hundreds of players over the years combat injury and improve their game. Here we address the most common causes of injury and problems that affect your performance on the pitch. They are based on our experience helping footballers with their injuries and come from our extensive bio-mechanical knowledge. If you’d like to discuss any aspect of them, or you have an injury or niggle you are concerned about then please give us a call now on 01273 921831.
1. Lumbar Extension
This will help with making your quads feel less heavy when you’re running around the pitch. Ideally this should be performed over the back of a Swiss Ball but if you don’t have one you can use the back of the sofa or edge of a bed. Simply arch backwards over the Swiss ball (or whatever you are using) and let the arms and legs hang in a relaxed fashion. You should feel a stretch through your stomach. You may get a sensation in your back also. So long as this is not painful carry on. Hold for a minimum of one minute. Longer if you can cope with all the blood rushing to your head! This is great for improving performance and also for anyone who has any kind of injury, particularly knee and quad issues.
2. Half Moon
Another great one for those who struggle with tight quads or knee pain. When the quads are doing too much work your obliques on the same side will tighten. To avoid this stand upright with your hands above your head. From this position bend over to the side as shown – making a half moon shape. You may feel the stretch anywhere along the outside of your body. If you feel a compressive sensation on the side to which you are bending then try the other way first and see if that eases the compression. Hold each stretch for a minute on each side.
3. Squat with Pelvic Thrust
Can be done without weight, with a bar bell or with dumbells. Take your feet so that they are shoulder width apart and ensure the toes are pointing forwards – not splayed out to the side. From there push you backside out behind you by bending at the knees to about 90 degrees. Try to make sure that as you go down your knees do not go beyond the front of your toes. As you come back up to the top of the squat throw your pelvis forwards (much like a pelvic thrust) and squeeze your glutes. This will give you more power and pace when running and open up the hip flexors to encourage correct functional movement for glutes, hamstrings and quads.
4. Quad Stretch with Pelvic Tilt
Just a little tweak on an old favourite to make it more effective. Pull the foot up behind the back side as shown in the picture to get to the point where you start to feel a stretch in the quads. From there push the pelvis up and out, like a pelvic thrust, and this should increase the stretch through the quadriceps and in the hip region. Great for tight quads and knee pain.
5. Quad Extension
A progression on from the last exercise. Some people are more flexible than others so the previous stretch may not have quite hit the spot. This not only stretches the quads but also the muscles which work with the quads to affect their efficiency. Start by sitting on your heels on the floor. Reach your hands out behind you to open up your pelvis and place your hands flat on the floor behind you. This will increase the stretch. If you need to increase the stretch further push the pelvis upwards until the stomach is flat as shown.
6. Hamstring Stretch
A standard stretch with a twist to make it more effective. Start by placing the foot on something about table height – flexible people will need something higher, the inflexible will need something lower. When the foot is up on the table in front of you lean forwards with your upper body to bring the stretch on. Come back up to upright. This time rotate the foot outwards and then lean in again. You will feel the stretch in a slightly different place – it may tighter, it may be looser. Come back to upright. Then rotate the foot inwards and repeat. Find out which stretch is ‘hitting the spot’ best for you and focus on that one.
7. Neck Stretch
Some footballers are a little bit too tense which can result in getting a tight neck and shoulders. Biomechanically this has a knock on affect and can affect your hamstring length and glute strength. Simply stand and bow your head and apply over pressure with your hand downwards. You should feel a stretch at the back of your neck. You may even feel the stretch spreading lower down your back. Hold for about a minute and repeat a couple of times.
8. Calf Stretches
Many footballers suffer from tight calves. The standard stretch is to lean against a wall, take your leg out behind. Whilst keeping the heel down, lock your knee straight and this will stretch your calf. From this position bring the foot slightly forward – turn the toes inwards slightly and bend at the knee – you should feel this stretch a bit lower and deeper into your calf muscles.
9. Adductor Stretch
The kicking muscle stretch. To start lift one leg on a table as in the hamstring stretch above and as shown in the picture. This time rotate the foot inwards completely so your inside ankle bone is on the couch. Now drop down by bending the leg you are standing on to increase the stretch. This is also great for anyone with knee pain.
10. Sit and Reach
Another one for those tight hamstrings. This addresses the biomechanics of why hamstrings are tight. Sit on the floor in front of a wall and put your feet fleet against the wall. From there simply reach forwards as far as you can. You will feel this in your hamstring and potentially back and calves also. If this stretch is too painful for you back away from the wall and point your toes instead. This should make the stretch a little more comfortable.
We hope you find these exercises useful. We have many high quality footballers across the country following this regime with excellent results – so don’t miss out on the benefits to your game.
If you have any kind of injury you’d like us to look at then please give us a call on 01273 921831 . We’ll do everything we can to help you getting back to playing your best as quickly as we can.