Importance of hip mobility for handball goalkeepers
As handball goalkeepers, if we want to perform on the best possible level, we must have mobile joints and limbs.
Extremely important for handball goalkeepers is actually hip mobility.
We need hips with a full range of motion. To build the healthiest hips possible, they need to be both strong and flexible.
Now, what that means?
We know how often in goalkeeping we are performing side steps, sliding, or leg raises while trying to save the upcoming shot.
If you have poor joint mobility, performing any movement that requires precision and communication between joints and limbs is going to be much harder, and the risk for injury much higher.
Not only the hip mobility is under trained, but there is also another problem: nowadays we sit too much. We all know that.
And why this is important?
Because sitting impacts hip mobility in two major ways:
1. it weakens the gluteus and
2. it shortens the hip flexors.
Both your gluts and your hip flexors figure prominently in the activation of your hips, so when they are weak and/or inactive, the lower back takes over.
Before we dig deeper into this topic, here is a fast “hip mobility task” you can do right now to get the feeling for current situation of your hips: make a squat. A proper squat. (Google the proper squat position if needed!)
Keep the correct position, with both feet completely on the floor and keep the back straight. You got it? Good. Now lift up your hands straight up above your head. Still feeling comfortable with squat position?
Then you are good to go. Take a coffee and enjoy the rest of your day.
But, all of you who had a trouble to get into the squat position, or if you had to lift up your heels in order to make deep squat: you should read carefully the rest of this text, and use some of the drills that are shown in the attached video.
Important to know:
Improving the hip mobility will help in several areas:
- reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation (and we all know how often are lower back or knee problems with the goalkeepers)
- improve the strength and power of your hip extension, extremely vital for vertical jumps, sprinting, and any basic explosive movement (all of which we, again, as a goalkeepers, use a lot)
- improve the hip abduction (most of goalkeeper’s movements consider hip abduction: lifting up the leg in middle save reactions and deep side step or sliding in low save reactions)
- improve rotational strength; instead of rotating with the lumbar spine, you’ll generate power with the hips
- improve speed, especially sprinting speed
Muscles of the Hip
The hips have many different functions. They must be both stable and mobile at different times and in different planes, along with being able to abduct, adduct, extend, and rotate on demand.
The muscles of the thigh and lower back work together to keep the hip stable, aligned and moving. It is the muscles of the hip that allow the 4 basic movements of the hip:
- flexion – bend
- extension – straighten
- abduction – take the leg away from the body
- adduction – bring the leg back toward the body
Just to give you a picture of what’s happening in your hip, here is a list of the corresponding muscles:
- Hip Flexors (rectus femoris, pectineus, psoas, iliacus, tensor fascia lata)
- Hip Extensors (gluteus maximus, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris)
- Hip Rotators and Abductors (quadratus femoris, obturator internus, gemilli, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, piriformis, sartorius)
- Hip Adductors (adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, obturator externus, gracilis)
That is lot of muscles! 🙂
To keep it short and simple, remember:
flexible hips are necessary for the variety of exercises for handball goalkeepers.
In this video are shown some of hip mobility and flexibility exercises, especially useful for handball goalkeepers.
I just wanted to emphasize the importance of working on hip mobility and flexibility, and to share some of the exercises that you as a goalkeeper or as a goalkeeper coach can use during your own practices.
Even if your hip flexors and legs are flexible, it doesn’t guarantee that you will perform better at your sport.
A study performed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, showed that stretching the hips increases the range of motion, but it does not improve functional movements that require balance, dynamic stability and multiple muscles to move together, such as the lunge, standing hip extension and standing and reaching maneuvers.
Therefore: perform hip flexor exercises which closely look like the sport you play.
Share and stay happy!