As netball season is in full swing and we are almost at the half way point of the season injuries can start to creep in. So far this year here at Border Podiatry Centre we have seen a number of players experiencing hip pain when playing each week, not to forget to mention training as well. You can often find that lower back pain also presents when our hips aren’t feeling one hundred percent.
The hip musculature is often forgotten about when it comes to stretching and strengthening before and after activity, particularly a netball game. Stretching and strengthening of these muscles is very important as they often perform eccentric contractions (motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load) which leaves them susceptible to strain.
We have 5 main muscle groups which can impact our hips and lower back, that’s right, not 1 but 5. They are the hamstrings, the hip adductors, the hips abductors the hip flexors and the hip extensors. Each group plays a different role in our hip functioning during activity. It is important not to forget these muscle groups when we are performing our daily stretching and strengthening regimes.
When it comes to stretching, we think dynamic is best! Dynamic stretching describes continuous movement while stretching which not only plays a role in reducing risks of injury, but also aims to improve the range of motion around you joints and prepares muscles for movement. Move it or lose it – WINNING!
Here is a good example of a dynamic hip abductor and adductor stretch using ‘side-to-side’ leg swings as these muscles cross both the inside and outside of the hip joints.
To perform this exercise it can be easier to use a bench or wall to stabilise yourself as these are performed on a single leg.
- Begin by lifting either leg (you will perform this exercise on both anyway) and kick this leg out to the side at a comfortable height (as shown on the left of the picture) to achieve adductor stretching.
- Following this we want to bring the same leg across the front of the body again to a comfortable height (as shown on the right of the picture) to achieve abductor stretching.
- We want to perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions of these on each leg each day with 1 repetition including both movements (outside and inside kick) and beginning at neutral (with our legs beside one another).
Hip flexor and hamstring tightness can be a main contributor to lower back pain and also play key roles in our pelvic posture. This is because when the hip flexor muscles are tight, this can lead to a strong pull on the pelvis leading to an anterior pelvic tilt (as shown below). When the pelvis is positioned this way this can create increased pull on the hamstrings leading to tightness of this muscle group also. It’s like a snowball effect.
To go with dynamic hip abductor and adductor stretching, if we use the same side-to-side leg movement but turn our body to swing our leg back to front (or front to back – what ever you prefer) we target our hip flexor and hip extensor muscles.
Again, the same as the hip abductor and adductor stretching we want to perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions a day.
By using these two stretches we are certain that your hips will feel freer to perform your best during your netball match.
If you are finding that you might need a bit of extra help with your hip pain, or may be having difficulty doing these exercises, do not hesitate to call the clinic to make an appointment with one of our amazing experienced podiatrists for a full assessment from your hips to your toes!