During my latest Yoga Retreat in Mexico, I went through numerous stretching, balancing and posture exercises. The list included yoga poses, foam roller positions and posture movements with tennis balls. I highly recommend this to any Pop Warner, high school college and professional kicker. I also noticed a greater emphasis on my breathing. The internal breathing I performed warmed me up; I was drenched after each yoga session. I realized not only can yoga help increase range of motion, but it also grounded me mentally and increased my focus. I brought home six great exercises that can help you in your kicking game.
I also recommend that you warm-up five to 10 minutes before you perform these exercises and suggest you consult your doctor before you start this program.
Downward Dog: Adho Mukha Svanasana Start with no bend in your hands and knees. Gently raise up your buttocks by straightening your arms and legs. Your legs and hands are shoulder width apart. Firmly press your hands into the ground and lengthen your back. You can also activate your quads as well to help keep your legs straight. It’s important not to arch your back, but lengthen it. Release your head and neck and start to breath. I would recommend five full breaths to help start to get the body warm. Stretch: Calves, lower back, hamstrings, shoulders
Upward Dog: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana You can easily move into upward dog from downward dog by simply straightening your body and moving into a plank position. Slowly lower your body to the ground, turning your feet so the tops of them are now on the ground. You can gently raise your upper torso from the groud and pull your shoulders back. Once again, your hands should be pressed firmly and evenly into the ground. Put your gaze into the ceiling above your head. Hold for four to five breaths. Alternate with downward dog to loosen up. Stretch: Lower abdominals, hip flexors, lower back
Pigeon Pose: Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana Again, start in downward dog position. You can move easily into pigeon pose by bringing your right leg across your body and gently placing your left leg on the ground. Be careful, as this stretch can place a strain on your knee if done incorrectly. From this position, lower the rest of your body onto your right leg as if you were lying on your knee. Your left knee will go onto the ground and the top of you left foot will be on the ground. When you start, place your hands on the ground for balance. If you feel a good stretch, stay there; if not, continue onto the ground and place your forearms onto the ground. Hold for four to five breaths for each leg. Stretch: pirformis, glutes, hip flexors
Foam Roller Hip/Tennis Ball on Feet Another great exercise I picked up includes work on a foam roller. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one on my website, www.kickingsystem.com. As shown in the picture, you simply lie on the roller on your side. Place the roller just underneath your hip bone, bend your arm so your forearm can keep you stable; make sure it lies under your shoulder blade. Simply roll an inch forward and an inch back until you find a tender spot. You can also move front to back to find a spot that is tender. Remember if the pain is too much, ease off and come back to it. If you find a spot that is tender, sit on that area and let the roller sink in more to help release the tension. You can move lower down the leg in this position almost to the knee, gently rolling back and forth. I recommend spending five to 10 minutes on each side. Stretch: pirfomis, hip flexors, quads
Tennis Ball I found this exercise to be most painful out of all of them. Take off your shoes and socks, find a tennis ball and place it underneath your foot. I would find a firm surface to facilitate rolling for this exercise. Start to place your weight on the tennis ball. Roll the tennis ball around the entire foot, from the toes to your heel. Again, if you find a spot that is tender, stay right there for a few seconds and then continue to move around. I would spend three to five minutes on each foot. You can feel the difference right away. Stretch: balance
Triangle Pose: Utthita Trikonasana There are numerous ways you can get yourself into this pose. The basic way is by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Turn one foot out, and bend from the hip, placing one hand on your shin. If you don’t feel enough stretch, you can put your hand on the ground or get a yoga block to make the stretch easier. Place your other hand above you and turn your gaze toward the sky. Hold for four to five breaths per side. Stretch: hamstrings, groin, side obliques