Add these simple stretches to your warmup to prime your muscles and prevent injury!
Stretching is an important part of both a warmup and a cool-down. There are two different types of stretching: dynamic and static.
Dynamic stretching is stretching through movement. It is best incorporated in the warmup phase of a workout as it gets muscles warmed up and ready for the activity they are about to perform.
Static stretching is holding a single stretch for 20-45 seconds and is best used at the end of the workout to allow the muscles to fully stretch and go through a full range of motion before they are cooled back down. Studies have shown that static stretching prior to a workout can be harmful to muscles, joints and ligaments and also reduces the force output for up to an hour- so save these for after the activity! Static stretches should be done after a proper cool-down (at least ten minutes) and held for about 30 seconds per muscle- starting with a gentle, easy stretch and gradually working into a deeper hold without straining or bouncing. It’s important to go through each major muscle group and spend equal time stretching each side.
Our coaches have put together a list of simple lower body dynamic stretches that are useful before a workout, practice or game. These stretches loosen up muscles to prevent injury during practice or play.
Do these after completing a 10-minute warmup.
LEG SWINGS: HAMSTRING & HIP FLEXOR
Swing the leg forwards and backwards engaging the hamstrings and hip flexors. Be mindful not to lean forward or back and keep the pelvis in a strong and fixed position. Do 10 swings per leg.
LEG SWINGS: ABDUCTOR & ADDUCTOR
Swing one leg across the body with no forced effort. Be careful not to rotate the torso or pelvis. Do 10 reps on each leg.
WALKING KNEE PULL
Pull one knee up to the chest. Hold for a count of five. Release knee and lower leg to the floor. Do this for ten yards, alternating legs each step.
To actively stretch your quad, grab your foot and pull back to feel a stretch on the front of your leg. Do this for ten yards, alternating legs each step. Repeat coming back for a total of twenty yards.
Lunge and reach to the floor, then raise into a hamstring stretch. Do this ten yards down and back.
Similar to the deep lunge, take a big step, lean forward with your hips while rotating over the bent leg with your shoulders back.
Take a side-ways step and sink your hips down between your legs to stretch the groin muscle on each leg. Go back and forth between legs for a total of ten on each side.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Soccer injuries may often be the result of overuse, poor conditioning, lack of proper rest/ recovery or insufficient warm-up. The following steps can reduce the likelihood of injury:
- Begin with a proper warm-up and dynamic stretching
- Take time for a cool-down period and static stretching
- Incorporate strength training into workouts- this will help build protective muscle over bones and joints which helps with stability
- Practice balance, agility and proprioception drills to improve knee and ankle stability – Register for our program below!
- Take time off to REST and RECOVER! Your body absolutely NEEDS this to stay healthy. Stay tuned for next month’s Health Athletes Topic of the Month to learn more!