5 Injury-Fighting Exercises for Athletes

Prevent injury by performing these five corrective exercises, with instructions and videos provided by STACK Expert Anthony Yeung.

Mini-Band Walk

All athletes need to include corrective exercises in their training. Whether these exercises are part of a warm-up or a separate workout, they will help you move better, feel great, and perform to your maximum potential.

It's important to train for the demands of high-intensity running, jumping, twisting, and cutting. Having weaknesses or deficiencies increases your chance of injury and can force you to miss games. Corrective exercises can help you activate weak muscles or stretch the ones that frequently get tight.

Here are five corrective exercises that target common problem areas. Do them before your next workout or game—or while you're resting between sets—and you'll notice a difference.

4-Way Mini-Band Walk

This corrective exercise activates the glutes and helps keep your knees healthy. Some athletes' knees move inward (known as "valgus") while squatting, jumping, or landing. This tendency puts more sideways stress on the knees and increases the chance of an ACL injury.

The 4-Way Mini-Band Walk will strengthen the small muscles that keep your knees out when you squat and jump and help you absorb force when you land.

  • Wrap a band above the knees of both legs
  • Stand in an athletic stance, keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent
  • Shuffle to one side for several steps with your toes straight and knees forced open. Do the same on the other side.
  • Do the same forward and backward
  • Make sure your knees and feet move at the same time. You should look like a cowboy or a sumo wrestler. (Use your imagination.)

Sets/Reps: 2x10  in each direction

Single-Leg Quadruped Rockback

This is a great dynamic stretch for your adductors (inner thigh muscles) and hips. Most people, unfortunately, have tight hips. This exercise forces the joints around the hips to be more mobile and handle more stress, better supporting the knees and lower back.

  • Get in a quadruped position ("all fours")
  • Take one leg and stretch it out to the side
  • Keep your spine neutral
  • Push your hips back until you lose the natural arch at your low back
  • Rock back and forth
  • Finish all your reps on one side, then switch to the other side

Sets/Reps: 2x8 each side

Wall Ankle Mobility

Ankle mobility is critical for athletes because the ankles both absorb and generate force. They also give your body the feedback it needs to align correctly during movement. A lot of shoes, however, are designed to surround the ankle and restrict motion. Worse, many athletes tape their ankles during games, which further limits mobility.

Poor ankle range-of-motion forces your knee to be more mobile and absorb more load. This can lead to ligament sprains and tears, knee cartilage tears, and poor alignment.

This corrective exercise will help increase mobility in your ankle joints.

  • Place the toes of one foot against a wall.
  • Keep your foot firmly on the ground
  • Rock your knee over your second and third toe and gently touch the wall
  • Touch the wall with every rep
  • Finish all your reps on one side, then switch to the other side

If you can't touch the wall without your heel coming off the ground, move your foot closer. If you can touch the wall, work on increasing the distance between your foot and the wall.

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each side

Wall Slide

Many people suffer from rounded shoulders. This restricts their shoulder joints during overhead movements and increases the chance of shoulder injuries.

This corrective exercise is a fantastic way to light up any weak muscles and lengthen the back of your shoulders.

  • Stand facing away from a wall
  • Keep your feet, butt, upper back, and head touching the wall
  • Place your forearms and wrists completely on the wall
  • Slide your forearms up-and-down
  • Hold in your core to keep your lower back in place

Sets/Reps: 2x12

Squat-to-Stand

This is one of my favorite exercises to teach a good squat, open up your hips, and warm up your body.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead
  • Bend at the waist and grab your toes (you should feel a hamstring stretch)
  • While grabbing your toes, pull yourself into a squat and push your knees out around your arms
  • Lift one arm up, then the other
  • Stand up

Sets/Reps: 2x8

Learn more about corrective exercises:


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRETCHING | MOBILITY | EXERCISE