With Autumn under way – not that you would know it…some of us will pull out our boots and shin pads and lace up for another season of soccer. For those who play at high level, training started months ago, but for the rest of us amateurs, who are out there to try some of Vardy’s specials, it marks the start of another dreaded pre-season. So to minimise your chance of an early injury which could see you miss the first half of the season here are a few tips to keep the joints mobile and the muscles in top shape.
Focus on mobility and range of motion before speed and agility. At the start of the season, especially during the weeks leading up to the season, start by focusing on joint mobility and range of motion, before worrying too much about speed and agility drills. For most of us, who have a pretty lazy offseason the biggest issue is stiff joints and sore muscles that haven’t been used since September last year.
How do you do this I hear you ask? Easy. For the first half of training focus more on cardio and stretching activities. For soccer players especially, stiff hips and lower backs, which are potentially compounded by a summer cricket season, pose the most risk to injury in the early stages of the year.
Work on dynamic stretching, hip mobility stretches, such as:
- the dynamic pigeon stretch
- kneeling and walking lunges
- the butterfly stretch; and
- the frog stretch – this particularly attractive
These really help to open up the hip joints, start to get our adductors (groin), hamstrings and quads activating in much better ranges and minimising the risk of early season strains and tears.
Start to work on your hamstrings, groin and lower back muscles independently. Make this part of your training drills as well as a home exercise regime. Poor core and pelvic stability puts excessive strain on the hamstrings, gluts and groin.
Focusing on core stability, pelvic control, eccentric and concentric hamstring exercises and isometric adductor exercise are a great way to get soccer specific muscles activating in the early stages of the year. As the season progresses, poor core stability will lead to excessive forces from adductors, hamstrings and hip flexors to stabilise the pelvis and is usually the precursor to hamstring, groin and quad tears.
Some simple activities for core activation can be found on our core series. Hamstring eccentric exercises such as weighted arabesque, adductor activities such as adductor squeeze with a soccer ball are easy exercises that help to get the muscles ready for an injury free year.
So instead of working on your trick moves, checking to see if you’re still the fastest player on the pitch and trying to smash home shots, train like the pros do and avoid coming in with an amateur injury ;).
If you do require any more specific information for pre-season exercise programs and stretches, our qualified Physiotherapists at the Healthy Body Company can assist in tailoring a program that is unique to you and your sport. If you are looking for recovery support – try a massage with our Remedial Massage Therapist.
Most important of all – enjoy the season and keep active. It’s the best way to have a healthy body and enjoy a healthy life.
Jude Holroyd is the Principal Physiotherapist at our Jordan Springs practice. He also thinks he is a bit of all right on the footy field.