Pain Free Training
There is a common theme amongst field hockey players that complain of back or hamstring pain. That is, they all have tight hip flexors and/or weakness in the gluteus medius muscle.
If you are unfamiliar with the anatomical term gluteus maximus, it is more commonly known as your buttocks. However, there are two other muscles in your backside that are less familiar to many: the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The glute medius is located under the gluteus maximus. It starts below the crest of the hip and stretches downward to the outside of the femur. The glute medius helps to abduct the leg or lift the leg laterally. It also aids in external and internal hip rotation.
Field hockey athletes virtually play in a squat or sitting position. Hip flexors tend to tighten and the glute medius becomes overpowered by the use of your hamstrings. Tight hip flexors and improper functioning of the glute medius throws the body’s alignment off and can cause pain for the athlete.
To prevent this from happening, here are two simple but effective stretches to use daily.
*Exercises demonstrated by Women's National Team member Maren Ford, #22.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
1. Kneel on your right knee with your leg perpendicular to the floor
2. Take a big step forward with your left leg so your knee creates a 90 degree angle
3. Lean your body forward keeping your torso upright, while pushing your hips forward.
4. Hold for at least twenty seconds. Repeat this three times on each side.
GLUTEUS MEDIUS STRETCH
1. Start on your side with your knees bent
2. Lift your top knee towards the ceiling and hold for three seconds.
3. Slowly bring the leg back down to starting position.
4. Start by doing three sets of ten repetitions. If you are doing the exercise correctly, you should feel a fatigue and burning in your glute medius
5. When you think you can handle more, bump up the number of repetitions in each set.
Good luck and happy, pain free training!