Exercise doesn’t stop because your workout is over. And movement doesn’t stop because you’ve left the gym.
The human body is made to move, and the benefits of daily movement are innumerable. To keep the body in condition to play, your body needs targeted, daily exercise.
Sitting a lot will make you stiff and sore. So will intense exercise. This soreness won’t go away by itself. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or getting paid to play, these 5 exercises will help keep you at the top of your game on and off the field.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Recreational Athlete’s Daily Drills
If you’re a recreational athlete, you have a goal of being fitter and stronger — a better version of yourself. You work out three to five times a week, and whether you’re training in the gym or playing pick up games with your friends, (or both) your competitive fire burns bright.
These 5 exercises will help you wind down after a long day at work or act as warm up, releasing your stiff hips, sore feet and keeping your center of power (the glutes) in game shape.
Massage your feet with a lacrosse ball
Your feet are in socks and shoes for most of the day and all those muscles, ligaments and tendons tend to get forgotten about.
The feet are your only point of contact between you and the ground and if something is amiss, or if you just wear shoes and socks practically all day every day, this can interrupt the feedback (from the peripheral nervous system) from the feet to the brain.
To help prevent this from happening and improve coordination, get a lacrosse ball and do 50 rolls on each foot daily.
[Related: 3 Simple Exercises Strength Athletes Should Do for Stronger, Healthier Feet]
The deadbug reinforces contralateral limb movement and improves core and pelvic stability. Not only is this required on the field of play, but it’s a great warm up exercise and can be used for recovery and mobility purposes between sets of heavy lifting.
Do 6 reps on each side daily.
[Related: 3 Core Blasting Ways to Do the Deadbug]
Single leg hip extensions
Single leg hip extensions build strong and active glutes, which are important for pelvic alignment, lower back support, and strong hamstrings. (Which are secondary muscles for hip extensions.) All of this will help you run, walk, and jump.
The single leg version puts more of your body weight on one foot, not only to strengthen the glutes but to remove strength imbalances between sides.
Doing 10 to 12 reps on each side will help keep your center of power ready to go.
Half kneeling hip flexor
Have you ever found your hips stiff after sitting? Or sore after intense sprints? You can thank your tighter than usual hip flexors for that.
Getting into the half kneeling position and stretching these for 2 minutes on each side will help relieve stiffness and soreness while improving your hip mobility.
This deserves 4 minutes of your day.
[Related: 8 Stretches to Unlock Your Hips After Sitting]
Deep bodyweight squat
Hip flexors aren’t the only things to get tight after running or sitting. It’s time to show some attention on the groin muscles too.
A deep, prying bodyweight squat — a deep squat with a little rocking at the bottom to help stretch out the groin — helps loosen up tight adductor muscles that inhibit the outer hips from activating. And if the outer hips are not doing their job, it’s more likely your knees will go in valgus during any change of direction or squatting movement. Spend five minutes down here every day, and remember to keep your knees pushed out to the side to keep your glutes active.
Advanced Athlete’s Daily Drills
If you’re an advanced athlete, you compete in sporting competitions and have a high level of dedication, skill and fitness. You know the benefits of daily training and what it takes to be ready to play.
These five exercises help with the rigors of standing, playing and lifting with emphasis on hip and shoulder mobility combined a dose of power to keep you game ready.
All fours belly breathing
Standing and playing on the field or performing exercises overhead can leave you with an over arched lower back and a protruding rib cage (overextended posture).
This exercise pushes you back into flexion to reverse this posture and the deep belly breathing will help with your recovery and reducing your stress.
Doing 6 to 8 deep breaths daily is a must if this sounds like you.
Note that if you don’t have an overarched lower back, you can substitute the deadbug exercise here.
Adductor/Quad foam rolling
Soft tissue work on the sprinting muscles will help prevent nagging injuries that you’re forced to deal with, particularly when you get older. Because there is a price for training and playing sports.
Spending some quality time with the foam roller (2 minutes on each leg) helps deal with soreness and tightness by bringing blood to this area. And in turn this helps with your hip mobility also.
[Related: The Best Foam Roller Exercises for the Quads]
Walking spider-man with hip lift and overhead reach
This move mobilizes the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine, three areas of the body that tend to be the most restricted after exercise or intense game play. This also doubles as a great full body warm up exercise and fantastic recovery move.
If you need hip flexor, back or shoulder stretches, why not just do all 3 at once? Now that’s some bang for your buck.
Do 6 reps on each side daily.
Single leg deadlift with reach
Dynamic balance is a crucial skill on and off the field. During match play (or activities of daily living) how you often find yourself in a single leg stance? It could be the difference between standing or falling flat on your face
This exercise is extremely effective because it trains you to stabilize on one leg, like you do when you’re running and playing sports. Do 6-8 reps on each side to improve your dynamic balance.
Broad jumps build leg strength and explosive power, which are needed to blow by opponents and to react quickly to game situations.
Jumps like these improve the reaction time of fast-twitch muscle fibers because they require leg and core muscles to contract quickly to generate maximal force with each leap.
Furthermore, they’re helpful with knee injury prevention because when you emphasize a soft landing with each jump, it helps reduce the strain on your knee and hip joints.
When done regularly, they will also better condition your body for impact.
Do 3- 5 reps daily focusing on quality reps and distance.
[Related: 5 Unusual Explosive Movements for Building Power]
Put these exercises into your routine when you’re training or complete them as a circuit when you’re not. These will keep you moving and feeling better, so you’ll be ready to play when the lights are on.
Featured image via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock