"Baz, can you help stretch my groin?”

As West Ham physio Andy Rolls tells FFT, the key to match readiness is a mix of dynamic stretches and hands-on team-mates. No sniggering please, we’re all professionals here...

Tuck jumps

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and position your arms at your sides,” says Rolls. “Now push down into the ground and leap upwards, driving your knees up towards your chest, bringing your arms out in front of you. Cushion your landing with bent knees. This basic plyometric exercise will fire-up your heart-rate and activate the leg muscles. Try two sets of 12 reps.”

Lateral bounds

“This is a plyometric exercise that replicates football-specific movements and will protect your knees and hips from injury,” reveals Rolls. “Get set with your feet shoulder-width apart, engaging your knees and hips in preparation for the exercise. Drive off your right leg, springing to the left, landing gently on the ball of your left foot. Repeat the motion, but now leap to your right, powering off with your left leg. Go for two sets of 10 jumps.”

More after the break

Single leg RDL

“This is a good way to activate the eccentric component, which is so important for the hamstrings,” says Rolls. “Standing on one leg, staying as balanced as possible, bend forward slowly to touch your toes, before returning to a standing position. Do seven reps per leg and, after doing the hamstring swings, you’ll be good to go.”

Hamstring swings

“These are the most commonly injured muscles in football, so that’s why we need two exercises,” says Rolls. “Imagine you’re holding a weight in both hands between your legs, slightly bent at the knee, and swing over your head and back down for 10 reps. You can also do this with a kettlebell weight in the gym, but in a warm-up this isn’t necessary.”

Single leg squats

“The quads are used a lot in football, not only for running but also producing shooting power and hitting long passes, so they’re an important area,” says Rolls. “From a standing position, bend one leg to 90 degrees, keeping your knee over your big toe, and push up. Do 7-10 reps per leg. Towards the end of the warm-up, more dynamic, kicking-related quad exercises should follow.”

Lunges

“With all main football-related muscle groups now activated, you need to move onto a few exercises to prepare the whole body before the team warm-up,” says Rolls. “Step forward, keeping your front leg’s knee in line with your toes, and allow your back leg to bend to 90 degrees without it touching the floor. Repeat 10 times per leg. Add a half-turn of the upper body for variation.”

Groin resistance with a partner

“It’s difficult to stretch the groin region without equipment, so borrowing a team-mate is the best way to do this,” says Rolls. “Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together as close to your backside as possible and resist your partner gently pushing your knees to the floor for five reps of three seconds. This is much more effective than a simple groin stretch.”

Double leg squats

“Similar to the single leg squat, these can be done slightly quicker to raise your body’s temperature,” says Rolls. “Keep your back straight and heels on the floor, with your arms out in front for balance. Bend until you feel the stretch and push up again. Your heart-rate should now be raised and in perfect condition to start running in the team warm-up, whatever the weather!”

The League Medical Association (LMedA) represents and promotes all medical personnel in professional league football. For more information please visit www.lmeda.co.uk or email info@lmeda.co.uk

For more football fitness tips see:
Warm up essentials: Fire up your glutes – part one
Warm up essentials: Fire up your glutes – part two
Warm up essentials: Fire up your glutes – part three
Warm up essentials: Jogging
Warm up essentials: Skipping
Warm up essentials: Activate your hips
Warm up essentials: Balance and co-ordination
Warm up essentials: Explosive movements
Warm up essentials: Change of direction
Warm up essentials: Speed, agility, quickness

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