When it comes to injury prevention from non-contact injuries there are key factors that come into play. Mobility, muscle activation, and movement prep should be a staple for every athlete’s program. Incorporating each component will allow for greater movement efficiency during training. There are a ton of great training methodologies out there. The overall goal with each is to enhance athletic performance. We cannot do that with postural dysfunctions that carry over into movement dysfunction. This creates an ideal opportunity for the mobility, activation, and movement prep to set the stage for a fantastic and productive workout most importantly.
When the term mobility is used, people tend to deviate towards muscle flexibility.Mobility refers to the joint moving through its normal range of motion.The muscles as well asfascia assist with movement of the joints so they will also need to be addressed. Most back issues stem from stiff hips and ankles. It’s best to use theJoint by Joint Approach by Mike Boyle to address issues dealing with mobility. You will want to open the hips in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane. We move in multiple planes so it makes sense to address the hip this way as well. The other joints that you will focus your mobility efforts are the ankle and thoracic spine.
Activation of certain muscles are vital to anchor the body with stability once an adequate amount of mobility has been attained. An example are the glutes due to its primary function of hip stabilization and hip extension. When the glutes are inhibited it leads to a number of issues. Inhibited glutes can lead to inefficient control of the trunk, knee valgus, and ankle pronation. The trunk is also another vital area to activate. Stabilizing the trunk will help the nervous system to “get online”. Once the stabilizers are activated the muscle recruitment pattern will increase throughout the body.
Movement prep is a great way to get an effective dynamic warm up going. The focus should not only be on elongating muscles actively, but also on opening up thefascial lines that we have. By doing so this will prepare the athlete for more intense work later on in the session. I love to utilize the movement prep as an evaluation to see what is happening at each joint. This allows coaches to take the prep portion of the workout more serious because it sets the tone for everything else. Some great movement patterns to incorporate are the world's greatest stretch, adductor stretch, hamstring tall marching, quad pulls, and some dynamic balance movement patterns. Some other great ideas for movement prep are the movement patterns that flow into one another. For example, start out in a hip flexor stretch and transition into a glute stretch. As the athlete progresses in their program, I also progress their movement prep along with everything else.
Having symmetry with respect to mobility and stability will bring balance throughout the kinetic chain. Addressing the imbalances at the beginning of a session will create a productive and purposeful workout. We can never really avoid contact injuries. Non-contact injuries can be avoided by addressing the postural and movement dysfunctions initially.