Injury rehab and prevention is a key component to maintaining a good training routine. Whether you are training for marathons or beach volleyball or just want to look good this summer, preventing injuries will ensure you stay active and achieve those summer time goals.
The vast majority of sports out there require having a stable base, which starts from the ground up. Having stability in your ankles, knees, and hips is the foundation for injury prevention and improved performance. The following exercises both isolate the stabilizers of the hip, knee, and ankle as well as integrate them into more dynamic movements, which ultimately leads to a stronger base. (See slideshow for pictures of each exercise.)
- Clamshells – Begin in a sidelying position with knees bent. Keeping the feet together and the hips forward, open the knees slowly as if they were a “clamshell.” Hold for 3-5 seconds. Slowly lower the knees back to the starting position. Begin with 10 repetitions each side and 2 sets. Progress towards 2 sets of 15, 20, 25, and 30 repetitions.
- Bridges – Begin on your back with knees bent. Draw in your stomach as if you were trying to reach one more notch on your belt, squeeze your glutes, and raise your hips. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then slowly lower back to the starting position. Begin with 10 repetitions each side and 2 sets. Progress towards 2 sets of 12 and then 15 repetitions. Exercise tubing may be added around the knees to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
- Single Leg Balance with Reach – Begin by balancing on one leg with the knee slightly bent and hips back. Reach out with the opposite leg at about a 45-degree angle forward, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement reaching straight out the side and also at a 45-degree angle backward. Repeat for 5 repetitions at each position then change legs. Perform 3 sets each side. To increase difficulty try performing the single leg balance with your eyes closed.
- Lateral Bound with Hold – Begin by balancing on one leg with the knee slightly bent and hips back. Push off sideways landing on the opposite leg. Land with the knee slightly bent and hips back. Control the movement so the hips do not rotate and the knee stays in alignment with the ankle and hip. Hold that position for 3-5 seconds without extra movement. Push off sideways again and bound onto the leg you started with. Begin with 5 repetitions each direction and 3 sets. To increase difficulty a shuffle step may be added to the bound (balance, shuffle step, land).
These exercises can be added before or after your current workout routine. The focus of each exercise should be on maintaining proper mechanics throughout each repetition and each exercise. Being able to control the body during these exercises will lay the foundation for more explosive movements during other sports or activities.