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  • Writer's pictureLionel Pannunzio PT / SCS

Hip Strengthening For Soccer Players | Part I - Hip Extension | Weston | Florida

Updated: Feb 16, 2019


We start today a new series on Hip Strengthening Exercises for Soccer Players and in this first article I will talk about the importance, for Soccer Players, of the Hip Joint in general and Hip extension in particular.

Why the Hip is so Important for Soccer Players?

The hip a is Ball and Socket Joint which means that is prepared for multi directional movements.

With its 6-direction of movements ( flexion / extension, Abduction / Adduction, Internal and External Rotation ) the hip joint is the most important link in this chain called lower extremity. It connects the Lumbo-sacral area to the lower leg.

It has very powerful muscles attached to it and is the source of movement, strength, power and agility in Soccer Players.

Now that we know the hip joint is meant to support all the demands of our physical activity, you can easily understand that having very mobile and strong Hips will help you succeed in the field.

Lack of movement and weakness in the hip has been associated with every single injury in the lower extremity, you name it: ACL tears, Low Back Pain, Groin Pain, ITB syndrome, Patello-Femoral Pain, Ankle sprains, Pulled Hamstrings and on and on.

Today we discuss the importance of Hip Extension.

Full Hip Extension is a "must "

Lack of movement in hip extension has been associated to Low Back Pain in soccer players. When a player is setting up the leg for kicking ( imagine a long kick or a power shot like the one in the picture), he or she will need adequate hip extension.

If the hip and the thigh do not move backwards enough for your power kick, your body will get the necessary extension from somewhere else, most likely from the lumbar spine creating low back pain.

This lack of hip extension in the hip, compensated by an excessive lumbar extension, is very common in Youth Athletes, where their immature skeleton will not tolerate this repetitive abuse of the lumbar spine creating what is called a Spondylolysis ( aka spondys).

In a Spondylolysis there is a fracture of the vertebrae's Par Articularis that translates into moderate to severe Low Back Pain and inability to continue participating in Soccer practices or games. Adult Soccer Players can also suffer from Back Pain due to lack of hip extension but in these population usually there is no bone damage.

Hip Extension Weakness put you at risk for Injuries

Lack of Strength in Hip Extensors is another serious problem for Soccer Players.

The main hip extensor of the hip is the Gluteal Muscle Group (Maximus, Medius and Minimus).

Weak Glutes have also been related to the injuries described above.

The Glutes are the powerhouse of the hip creating strong hip extension necessary for quick reactions, sprinting, jumping, change of directions.

How to improve Hip extension

By now you can see that Hip Extension ( mobility and strength) are super important components, so now I will share with you different exercises you can do to improve them.

Hip Mobility Work

In this first Video, I demonstrate how to increase hip range of motion, this one is very specific to the game of soccer because it reproduces the kicking starting position we talked about above

As always the details are very important so here a few cues to make this exercise effective

Maintain your balance first

Activate your core and elevate the opposite arm to lock the lumbar spine and avoid excessive movement in this area

Bring your heel to buttocks to put tension in the hip flexors

Finally Push your Knee and Thigh slowly backward to create Active Hip Extension which will mobilize and lengthen the Hip Flexors. Be sure you keep the core tight at all times to avoid arching your back.

Use this as part of your warm up or after games to maintain a healthy balance at the hip and play pain-free

Hip Strengthening - Bridges

In this second Video, I demonstrate how to regain control in Hip Extension by activating your Glutes. When performing these exercises You must feel the effort in your gluteal muscles and not in the low back. If you feel it in the low back area means your are going to far up or you are not activating your glutes properly.

Bridge - Instructions:

Squeeze your glute muscles 5 times before lifting your back to activate them.

Begin lying on your back with your arms resting at your sides, your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the ground.

Tighten your abdominals and slowly lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position, keeping your back straight.

Make sure to keep your trunk stiff throughout the exercise and your arms flat on the floor.

Hip Strengthening - Bird Dogs

I just explained to you the importance of creating Hip extension without tapping too much into Lumbar Extension and Bird Dogs are one of the best ways to do achieve this dissociation

Bird Dog - Instructions

Begin on all fours, with your arms positioned directly under your shoulders.

Balance your body in one knee and the opposite hand.

Do a posterior pelvic tilt to find a neutral position of your pelvis and Tight your abdominal muscles once pelvis is in neutral

Straighten one arm and your opposite leg at the same time, until they are parallel to the floor. Hold briefly, then return to the starting position.

Make sure to keep your abdominals tight and hips level during the exercise.

Hip Strengthening - Resisted Bridges and Resisted Single Leg Bridges

Here I will show you how to load you hip extensors.

Glutes can manage heavy loads, and even thought I this video I'm lifting a dumbbell , it could be a heavy weight Disc, barbell with weights or a thick rubber band as well.

Again, You must feel the effort in your glute muscles and not in the lower back.

Do a couple of glute squeezes flat on the ground to activate them first and repeat exercise

Resisted Bridges - Instructions

Begin lying on your back with your arms holding the dumbbell against the front of your hips, your legs bent at the knees and your feet flat on the ground.

Tighten your abdominals and slowly lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position, keeping your back straight and the weight at your hips.

Make sure to keep your trunk stiff throughout the exercise.

Resisted Single Leg Bridges - Instructions

Begin lying on your back with both knees bent and your feet resting on the floor.

Straighten one leg, keeping it in line with your other leg, then tighten your abdominals and lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position, holding the dumbbell against the front of your hips.

Then lower yourself back down, and repeat.

Make sure to keep your abdominals tight and do not let your hips rotate during the exercise.


  • Soccer players need strong but at the same time mobile Hips.

  • Today I showed you the importance of hip extension for this sport.

  • You have now one mobility drill and 3 exercises to improve Hip Extension.

  • You will feel stronger and quicker once you do these Drills

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Are you having Hip or Groin pain while playing soccer ?

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