It’s a rare soccer player who hasn’t heard of or experienced hip pointers or basic muscle tears. Hip injuries are common in all sports that involve sudden change of motion or rotation of the hip joint in odd ways, so even sports that do not involve a lot of risk of injury from collision (such as golf or tennis) may see a disproportionate number of players with hip injuries. In sports where sudden directional changes are coupled with potential collision, such as soccer and football, hip injuries can be extremely common. However, there are a number of ways to avoid injury, mostly centered on stretching exercises prior to playing.
Hip injury can be prevented by proper stretching and by training even on the off-season. Any sport that requires sudden stops and starts, sudden changes in momentum, or twisting action by the hip can create hip injuries. Hip injuries can be extremely minor, requiring only rest and a bit of ice and elevation, to extremely major, necessitating surgery and bed rest. Fortunately, the below stretches can decrease the chances of a hip injury, as can making sure to stop immediately when one begins so that it can be treated before major injury occurs.
Stretches are always useful in keeping your hips in shape and if it does not involve too much stress, it will be quite a useful practice as it will prevent weight problems as well, which you can learn more by looking up hip flexors info online.
The article Hip to be Square in Men’s Fitness delineates a number of stretches that can decrease the likelihood of hip injury. One of these, the inner leg lift, is one seen in almost every pre-game workout. In this stretch, players lay on their side and lifts the leg on top into the air by about six to twelve inches repeatedly, making sure to lift and lower steadily. This stretches out the hip muscles and strengthens the thigh muscles to provide additional support.
The outer leg lift is just like the inner leg left in starting position. However, instead of raising the top leg, the bottom leg is raised. To do this, place the top leg, bent, with foot next to the kneecap of the bottom leg. Then raise the bottom leg slowly about 3-6 inches off of the ground. After 10-15 repetitions, roll over and switch legs.
Another useful exercise to avoid hip injury is the hip flexor, which I found particularly useful in avoiding the hip pointers that repeatedly cropped up while I was playing soccer. From a standing position, the player raises one leg off of the floor and bend it. Hold for about 10 seconds, then lower the leg slowly. Repeat for 5-10 times before doing the same with the other leg.
What workout is complete without squats? Squatting is a relatively simple though immensely tiring stretch that works the calf, thigh and gluts, all areas that help provide support so that hip injury is less likely to occur. From a standing position, bend both legs and squat down. Do not use the ground or your legs to rest upon, relying instead on pure muscle strength of the above referenced muscles to keep you up. After squatting for about a second, rise up slowly. Do this repeatedly. Although exhausting, it has a multitude of advantages and, I would say, is the best prevention for hip injury.
Squeezing an exercise ball (or a football or a soccer ball) between the thighs above the knees can improve inner thigh strength and decrease likelihood of hip injury.
Jackknives also improve leg strength and make hip injury less common. Players lay on their backs with hands tucked behind their heads. Legs are bent suddenly and sharply to bring the knees to the chest, then lowered slowly. This is repeated 10-20 times and increases flexibility and strengthens the gluts.
Much like the jackknife is lying leg raises. This exercise consists of laying on one’s back and raising the whole straight leg up in the air to a 90 degree angle to the rest of the body. It works the same muscles as the jackknife, but should be done more slowly.
My all time favorite stretch is the twisting leg raise because it has the added advantage of working the abdominal muscles at the same time with wonderful results. The disadvantage to this exercise is that it necessitates at the very least a chin up bar, though an actual exercise stand built for this purpose is better. Either hanging on the bar or placing arms appropriately on the arm bars, the knees are raised to the chest in a quick twisting motion to the right, then to the left. Each side should be repeated 10-20 times.
A particularly tricky stretch that provides exceptional flexibility and can often be seen on high school football fields before a game is the abdominal dragon flag. Lying down, legs are raised much as in the lying leg raise. The difference is that the player then continues raising his or her back from the ground until only the very upper most portion of the neck and the head are the only portions of the body left on the ground.
As a coach of young teenage girls, I favored the instep lunge for building glut muscles and providing flexibility, and encouraged them to continue this exercise even in the off season to maintain that strength and flexibility. Players stretching in this manner start in a standing position, then lunge one foot forward as far as they can reach, squatting down as they do so and bending the knee sharply. The other leg is then brought forward to come even with the first, and then the foot that was not lunged previously is lunged forward. This is repeated across an entire length of the field.