Steven Whittaker has explained how Hibs’ physio team have helped him find a fitness routine that he hopes will allow him to remain a regular contributor.
The 34-year-old started 22 matches last term despite being afflicted by inflammation in his core area – a problem that has lingered since his time at previous club Norwich City. It flared up particularly badly last winter and sidelined the former Scotland internationalist for the best part of three months from December onwards.
However, Whittaker has since found a way to manage the problem and allow himself to be available for selection on a regular basis. The full-back-turned-midfielder has featured in eight of Hibs’ 11 matches this season – six as a starter – and is optimistic that his new programme will help keep him injury-free.
“The issue with my core still bothers me occasionally but I just manage it as well as I can and make sure I’m available for each game,” explained Whittaker. “I’m in a good routine at the moment. I’ve basically got inflammation along the pubis bone, so it occasionally gets inflamed depending what I’m doing. If I take a couple of anti-inflammatories, it takes the edge off it but I don’t like taking a lot of pills to play. I just have to manage it and do my work in the gym. I worked hard with the physios when I was injured last season to get a routine in place to maintain my core and my groins and keep them strong.
“I feel fine when I’m out training but sometimes I feel a bit sore in the morning. It’s usually just a case of getting in and doing my stuff in the gym in the morning to wake the body up again. When you’re older it takes you a bit longer to get going, but I’ve managed to find myself a good routine. I’ve had to adapt now that I’m older. When I was younger you’d just go straight out on to the training pitch and start smashing balls about but now I need to a proper programme to warm up the core area that gives me problems. I just have to do a set of exercises that puts me in a better place before I start kicking balls about.”
Whittaker returned to Easter Road last summer, ten years after departing his first club to join Rangers. After a couple of frustrating years at Norwich in which he fell out of favour, the veteran enjoyed the “buzz” and “feelgood factor” of being back at Hibs, playing regularly and helping the team finish fourth in the Premiership. Contracted to the Easter Road club until 2020, he still feels he has plenty to offer. “I’m just concentrating on keeping myself in a good place and playing as much as I can,” he said. “I’m back home, my family is settled and hopefully I’ll not be going anywhere else. I’d love to finish my career here. As long as I feel I can still do myself justice and the club still want me, I’ll keep going.”