The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day is about mobility of the trunk and spine. Soccer is a sport that involves frequent twists and turns, performed at high speeds while kicking, jumping and running. Over time, the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine or “T-spine” (middle of the back, below the cervical spine and above the lumbar spine, with vertebrae’s # T-1 to T-12) can get very tight. This muscle tightness can, in turn, limit mobility of the spine and trunk, which can effect negatively performance in a variety of ways. Limited T-spine range of motion and muscle tightness can decrease power, strength, and also lead to hip and lower back injuries. It can also affect the respiratory muscles, making it more difficult to breathe when tired.
Simple mobility exercises done during warm-ups can significantly improve T-spine mobility. One of my favorite exercises to use with soccer players is the T-spine rotation, which can be done anywhere including on a soccer field, with no equipment required. Below is a video of the exercise. Following a 5-10 minute warm-up, have players perform 6-8 repetitions of the T-spine rotations with each side, holding each repetition for 10 seconds. This exercise is now a standard part of the pre-training and pre-game warm-ups I use with all of my athletes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.