If you want to develop power in your shots, strong and flexible hips are critical. Creating rotational forces from the legs allows the player to transfer power through his hips and into the shot, creating additional acceleration. Conversely, relying too much on shoulders, elbows and wrists to generate power often will result in an overuse injury. Nerves, muscles, bones and joints work in succession from the feet to the arms to form a swing. We call this the “kinetic chain” and one weak link can affect the whole sequence. Take some time to watch elite or professional players play. Observe how they pre-stretch and load their lower extremities by rotating away from the shot and then quickly snap through with their hips to generate power.
This paddle season make a resolution to stretch and strengthen those hips and learn how to release all your power through your kinetic chain. Be sure to check with your chiropractic physician to see if your hips are in alignment and all of the links in your kinetic chain are solid. You can also implement these stretches into your routine to improve hip function and mobility:
The Psoas Stretch
• Kneel on your left knee.
• Place your right foot in front of you, bending your knee at approximately a 90 degree angle. Place your hands on your hips to avoid bending at the waist. Keep your back straight and abdominal muscles tight.
• Lean forward, shifting more body weight onto your front leg. You’ll feel a stretch in your left thigh.
• Hold for about 30 seconds.
• Switch legs and repeat.
• To incorporate your Quadriceps prop the foot of the down knee on the back of a chair or couch. This will increase the stretch dramatically.
The Glute stretch
• Lie on ground with knees bent
• Cross the left lower leg over the right thigh
• Grab behind right thigh with both hands, just above the knee
• Pull right knee towards the chest, you should feel the stretch in the left buttock
• Be sure to keep back and neck straight and resting on ground.
• If the knee cannot be reached a towel can be used to pull knee to chest.
• Repeat on opposite side.