Gallucci On Common Sense Is Needed For Better Injury Prevention for Hip Flexors
Here is the latest Injury Prevention and Treatment advice from John Gallucci, Jr., MLS Medical Coordinator.
Gallucci is the Medical Coordinator for Major League Soccer (MLS), overseeing the medical care of 600 professional soccer players and an expert in injury prevention, rehabilitation, sports medicine and athletic conditioning. Gallucci is the former Head Trainer of the New York Red Bulls MLS team and is a Sports Medicine consultant for professional athletes in the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and USA Wrestling. Gallucci, Jr. is also President of JAG Physical Therapy & JAG Pediatric Therapy.
Here are Gallucci’s insights on the importance of hip flexor injury prevention.
Soccer News: When discussing injury to the muscle group known as the hip flexors, we’re often referring to a strain of the musculature, which occurs when the muscle is stretched beyond it’s normal limit.
This can be the result of doing too much too soon, inadequately warming-up or overworking the musculature, or it can simply be caused by a chance occurrence. As with most muscular injuries, the trauma can be either acute or chronic.
An acute muscle strain is the result of an immediate or sudden occurrence that causes pain.
Most often this is from a rapid or violent kick when the athlete is in a fatigued or unprepared state.
If it’s early in the game or practice and the athlete decides to go at 100% before he or she is properly warmed-up, the muscles are not prepared for a rapid stretch-contraction. Conversely, when it’s late in the game, and the athlete is dehydrated or fatigued, the muscle is also at risk for strain.
“So how do we find a happy medium?”
Prior to athletic activity, we need to educate our athletes on proper ways to take care of and listen to their bodies.
A proper warm-up progression during which the athlete breaks a sweat, means he or she is getting adequate blood into the muscles.
With improved blood flow, the muscles are actively being healed and increasing their extensibility and thus their preparedness for activity.
Related Article: SOCCER PLAYERS: THE IMPORTANCE OF STRETCHING
Along with this, hydration is important to keep our blood flowing smoothly through the various tissues.
Without enough fluid intake before, during and after activity, our blood becomes more thick and viscous and has more difficulty traveling through the body. Aside from a clear drop in performance, this also puts the athlete at a greater risk for a muscle strain.
Chronic muscle strains are the result of the same motion, repeated over and over again. The same muscles are being worked in the same muscle pattern, relentlessly. For this portion, let’s think about the kicker in American Football. Their job is extremely repetitive and does not allow for much diversity in training; a kicker only kicks, but think about how much more a soccer player kicks.
Biomechanics of the Leg Kick
Hip Flexion, Adduction and Internal Rotation
The combined movement of hip flexion and adduction is important in the acceleration of the soccer athlete’s lower leg in front of and across the body. Moving from an extended and abducted hip- or the wind up prior or to the kick- the leg accelerates to move from back to front, beginning with the core in a properly controlled movement that drives down and through the ball.
The most important hip flexor muscles for the kicking motion are the rectus femoris and iliopsoas. Though the actions of these muscles are similar in their isolated function of hip flexion, in a dynamic leg swing or kick, the rectus femoris tends to take over, as itis a longer, larger, two joint muscle.
Anatomically, the iliopsoas is a primary flexor of the hip. It originates at the lumbar spine, crosses the hip joint and connects to the femur.
The rectus femoris originates at the anterior superior iliac spine (the ASIS, which is the most prominent protuberance at the front of the hip) and inserts at the tibial tubercle by way of the patellar tendon.
As mentioned, the rectus femoris is the longer of the two muscles, and it also acts in extending the knee.
It is the rectus femoris that is most involved with the dynamic kicking motion, with the transferring of the force originating at the core, moving through the flexing hip and exploding into a violent knee extension.
Prevention and Management
For these athletes, it’s about proper management of their practice. Much like a pitcher keeps a count on his pitches, a kicker must keep a count on his kicks. Their time should really be spent on good, quality reps, with a strong focus on technique.
It doesn’t make much sense to go out and kick until their leg is ready to fall off.
This is much the same way soccer athletes should be managed. The athlete should strive for quality repetitions over the course of each practice leading up to game day. This is especially true for the injured athlete returning back to the field.