A successful offseason program always starts with a functional, specific and effective warmup. One aspect of the warmup is the dynamic warmup (dynamic meaning "involving movement.") Strength and Conditioning coach Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT, states that the dynamic warmup is ideal for the following reasons:
1. It activates the muscles you will use during the workout.
2. It improves range of motion of your joints.
3. It will improve body awareness (i.e. your balance and coordination systems.)
4. By warming up in motion you can enhance muscular performance and power.
I personally prepare my NFL clients daily with the hurdle program which takes only five minutes. The hurdle program is fun and a great way to prepare the body for a workout session.
Here are a few of the movements of the hurdle program that we do at the Fischer Institute.
1. UNDERNEATH-SIDEWAYS (FIG 1)
First bring the hurdles up to highest position possible. Have the athlete stoop down underneath the hurdle in a sideways fashion by bending their hips, knees and ankles. This will create a wonderful stretch to the back of the legs and hips. The athlete will rise up in between the hurdles and then stoop back down to get underneath the next hurdle. Remember to go both to the left and to the right.
2. UNDERNEATH-STRAIGHT IN (FIG 2)
Keep the hurdle in the same highest position as the first movement. Have the athlete face the hurdle and step in with one leg under the hurdle while at the same time reaching across their body with the opposite hand. This drill will focus on the flexibility of the hip flexors (front of the hips) and the backside of your hips.
3. OVER- STRAIGHT KNEE PICK UP ( FIG 3)
First lower the hurdle to the lowest position possible. Have the athlete face the hurdle straight on and in the middle of the hurdle. Instruct the athlete to lift one knee straight up , without swinging the hip and knee from side to side. Step forward with the same knee for the first set of hurdles while the trail leg can bend or sway to clear the hurdle. Remember to keep the trunk erect and straight. Avoid side bending to get the knee over the hurdle.
4. OVER- UP AND OVER FROM THE SIDE (FIG 4)
Keep the hurdle at the lowest position. Once again, have the athlete stand facing the hurdle, but this time they will stand so that only one leg will clear the hurdle. The athlete will pick up his inside knee to clear the hurdle in an up-and-over type movement pattern in which the the knee will lead over the hurdle causing the hip to turn inward to get the leg over. This up-and-over movement of the knee and hips helps promote hip internal rotation which is critical in moving efficiently in football.
The hurdle program is a cost-effective, time-efficient and fun way to run a team through part of a dynamic warmup that will produce benefits on the field!
-Brett Fischer is a licensed physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified dry needling provider. He has worked with the University of Florida, New York Jets, PGA; Senior PGA TOUR and the Chicago Cubs.
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