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DPT Approved Exercises for Athletes – Part 1 (Mobility)

By Amy Goebbert, PT, DPT

With all the workouts being posted right now to build “speed, power, explosiveness” in young athletes, I feel compelled to send out information to keep them safe.  As a physical therapist for the past 20 years, and former collegiate athlete who suffered my share of injuries, I wish I would have known then what I know now! There are some easy things as parents, coaches, program directors you can give to your athletes to work on now while at home.

A few basic concepts to keep in mind…

  1. To build speed, power, explosiveness, you must first have the mobility in the right areas of your body to move correctly. If you do not have the amount of motion necessary to complete the task, you will move in some way to get the job done. Most of the time that movement is performed incorrectly, with compensations, and puts other joints at risk of injury.
  2. For athletes, some of the most important joints to have good mobility are the ankles, hips and thoracic spine. If the ankle does not dorsiflex (or move your foot upward), the athlete cannot achieve a full squat position. There is a tendency to stabilize the ankles with tape, braces, and higher shoes, but if the ankle doesn’t move, the body will move somewhere else causing breakdown.  This typically occurs at the Achilles, plantar fascia or knee,  leading to pain.  If a hip does not extend or rotate properly, the full stride length cannot be achieved in running, swinging or pitching.  If the thoracic spine does not extend and rotate, the shoulder cannot reach back as far as it should to overhead hit or throw, causing strain at the cervical and lumbar spine over time.
  3. I could go on and on about the risk of injury, but what can you do about it? Warm up properly! 

Here are some ideas to properly warm-up the ankles, hips and thoracic spine. Getting motion is not enough, you must learn to control the motion.  Movement should be smooth and focused with each rep getting better than the previous.  Your athletes should be working on these drills NOW to help improve motion before returning to sport!

Try 10-20 slow, smooth reps on each side...



Try these three basic exercises to warm up your joints before a workout.  I will post a progression to these, as well as some other ideas for building safer movement in your athletes in the days to come.

It is always better to have movement analyzed by a professional.  We teach movement day in and day out and know the proper form and progression. If you have any concerns/questions, please reach out! #trainsmarternotharder #theracorept #yourPTyourdecision