This is a love letter to my adult soccer teams, but really, any adult playing on any team anywhere. First of all, please take into consideration the concept of sport specificity. If you regularly train in a pool, you will be in great shape for swimming, but not necessarily running or biking. Different muscles are used different ways, and the general conditioning will pay off, but the sport specific movements are just that: specific to that sport.
I had a soccer teammate and former client casually remark to me after a game, “I felt like I was stuck in the mud (We played on turf 🙂 and didn’t contribute much to the game!”
I said, “Well, are you working on moving sideways and backwards and diagonally at speed with a ball at your feet in your training at the Club? These are the directions you would find yourself moving on the field!”
He looked at me in a surprised way, and said, “No.”
I smiled and said, “Then why do you suppose it is difficult here on the field?”
In some ways I was shocked that he was disappointed. Why would his training translate to the field if he wasn’t training the way he moved on the field?
That’s very fixable! 30 minutes on the elliptical does not a soccer player make!
More than that, I think we lose (sometimes permanently, sometimes temporarily )at least one player a game to a pulled muscle.
A pulled muscle!
One of the easiest things to avoid and prevent on the planet, and yet it happens time and time again. I was running with my doggie Nova near my Club the other day, and a car nearly cut us off. I was getting ready to frown when the window rolled down and in the driver’s seat was my former teammate Rob. He was on his way to a doctor appointment, and I asked him if he was playing on a team. “No,” he said, “I have hamstring tendonitis,” as if that was the end of the conversation.
I was dumbfounded.
Was this happening all over the world? Are adults everywhere stopping playing the sports and activities they love once they are presented with a very preventable relatively minor setback (this isn’t a blown ACL) like a tight or overworked hamstring?
I was further plagued with questions….
Why was he satisfied with a diagnosis? Why did he stop there? Why didn’t he ask the really big “why” question:
WHY do I have hamstring tendonitis?
And more importantly: WHAT can I do about it?
What was especially frustrating was that I had helped, as I help most all of my teammates that need some muscle love, Rob on the sidelines when he was on my team. I knew that his outside hamstring wasn’t working on a fairly regular basis and this was putting all kinds of stress on the two that were. (Matt Coleman this is you, too!) I have blogged how to fix it multiple times before – if you run into problems on a hike https://justmuscles.net/walking/get-outside-hamstrings-work-hike/, or can get on the floor https://justmuscles.net/foam-roller/really-really-really-get-hamstrings-work/, or even my latest favorite while kneeling https://justmuscles.net/fitness/how-to-get-your-hamstrings-to-activate-fast/
What is the solution, for my soccer teammates as well as any adult sporters?
First of all, ROLL YOUR QUADS. If nothing else, ROLL YOUR QUADS. Stretch them, fatigue them, get them out of your way. They are the direct antagonist muscle to the hamstring and just releasing the tension in the front of the body often quickly helps the back of the body.
Second, engage ALL 3 of your hamstrings.
This will help balance out the naturally occurring tightness in the quads. You can slide a pillow under your knees! This is the easiest and fastest way that I know of to get them to work and is derived from a Brazilian soccer drill. Grab that post or doorway with your heels and ankles and fall forward, feeling all three hammies kick in to decelerate your fall.
You don’t have to fall all the way down, please catch yourself if you do, and if your low back tries to help give it some snake breathing (teeth together, tongue up against the back of the teeth, exhale forcefully thru teeth felling core engage making a snake sound) to stabilize.
My soccer friends, if you spent 3 minutes fast rolling your quads and another 2 minutes engaging your hamstrings pregame instead of standing around talking I think you would have a very different game indeed!
Imagine…. you could keep playing as long as you would like, and then all sorts of good things would happen….we could develop team chemistry, we could score some goals, you’d be faster and nimble and agile, you’d be less sore after the game, and keep coming back for more!
This is my dream for all…keep coming back for more. Do you warmup or train the way your sport dictates you move? Please let me know in the comments below!
What’s the downside: nothing!