Preventing muscle pulls before they occur

Todd Dunivant and preventative stretching, strength exercises

Galaxy Fitness Insider

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

Welcome to the Galaxy Fitness Insider. This weekly feature will be written by Galaxy Strength & Conditioning Coach Ben Yauss and will look at how he interacts with the Galaxy players and applies performance training to maximize the players' physical development. Each week, Ben will focus on a different piece of the Galaxy players' overall training plan and use current examples of how these training techniques are being used by the players. Fans are encouraged to participate by leaving questions for Ben either in the chat box or at the bottom of each weekly article, which he will aim to incorporate into future posts. Please be advised that the information in the Galaxy Fitness Insider is for informational purposes only and not intended for use by all audiences.

Last week, we discussed the importance of implementing injury prevention programs into our training to try and reduce the likelihood of an injury.  This week, we'll delve deeper into that topic, focusing on two of the most common muscle injures in soccer, to the hamstrings and groin. Injuries to these muscles are often the result of overuse and usually result in muscle pulls or strains.  While in years past we would wait for these injuries to occur and then rehab them, we are now trying to take a more active approach to try and prevent these injuries before they occur. The idea behind this is that if we give the players a set of exercises to do on a daily basis that focus on proper muscle activation, proper form and mechanics, and proper mobility and stability that it would allow these players to be more efficient on the field and decrease some of these overuse injuries.

The entire team is given their own set of exercises that specifically focus on their own movement patterns, limitations, and imbalances but for today we are going to focus on how Todd Dunivant is using his program to work on strengthening his core and hips to keep him healthy this season.

READ: Despite Surgery, Dunivant still an Ironman for LA

Todd understands the importance of taking care of his body both on and off the pitch.  He makes sure he is working with the entire staff on a daily basis to ensure that he is recovering and receiving the necessary treatment to keep his body working efficiently and correctly.  Part of that daily ritual is the time he spends in the weight room every morning prior to practice going through his foam roll, core and hip exercises, and stretching routine to make sure that he is strengthening all the areas around his core and hips in order to prevent any groin related injuries.

Todd’s routine usually starts with the foam roll.  The purpose of the foam roll is to release some of the tension and tightness that our muscles sustain from practice or games.  When we have tight muscles we are not able to use our bodies as efficiently as possible because our muscles are not at their optimal length to function efficiently. 

Todd spends time using the foam roller on his Quads, IT band (the outer part of our thighs), the glutes and hip flexors.  By foam rolling these areas he is able to loosen all the muscles around his hips so that his body is aligned correctly.

WATCH: Todd demonstrates how to use the foam roller

After loosening his muscles, Todd goes through his core and hip strengthening circuit.  By strengthening these muscles he will be able to rely on his core and glutes more on the field and not have to rely on the small groin and adductor muscles as much.  These exercises consist of Pillar bridges, mini band exercises and single leg stability exercises.

WATCH: Todd demonstrates his core & hip strength circuit

The final part of Todd’s program is his flexibility or mobility exercises.  These exercises are geared toward improving his range of motion in his hips.  This will help him with his posture and form and allow him to be more nimble and agile on the pitch.  These exercises include hip flexor, groin, and hamstring stretches.

WATCH: Todd goes through his flexibility exercises

When you add all these exercises up it allows Todd to go out on the field with a confidence that his body is working the correct way and he is going to be able to perform at the highest possible level. 

Like Todd, all you need is about 15 minutes a day and you can give your body a head start in the fight against hamstring and groin injuries.  Here is a sample program that you can incorporate in your own training programs to help prevent those nagging injuries

Foam Roller

  • Foam Roll IT Band - 30 seconds
  • Foam Roll Quad - 30 seconds
  • Foam Roll TFL - 30 seconds
  • Foam Roll Adductor - 30 seconds

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Core & Hip Strengthening Circuit

  • Front Pillar Bridge - 30 seconds
  • Lateral Pillar Bridge - 20 seconds/side
  • Glute Bridge - 30 seconds
  • MiniBand External Rotation - 5 on each side
  • MiniBand Walk - 10 on each side
  • MiniBand Walk Lateral - 10 on each side
  • Single Leg Squat (w/MiniBand) - 10 on each side

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Flexibility/Mobility Exercises

  • Hip Flexor Stretch - hold for 20 seconds
  • Supine Knee Hug - 10 on each side
  • Inverted Hamstring - 5 on each side
  • 90/90 Stretch - 10 on each side

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Follow all of Ben's Galaxy Fitness Insider updates at www.lagalaxy.com/fitnessinsider. Fans are encouraged to participate by leaving questions for Ben either in the chat box on the page or at the bottom of each article, which he will aim to incorporate into these weekly posts.

READ: Preventing the Injury Before it's an Injury