No matter how strong or confident you are, it’s important to prepare for your soccer games. Most of the game takes place off the field because of all the little things, like staying hydrated, practicing on your own time, and eating well. But did you know that stretching properly is just as important for not only your academic performance, but for preventing muscle tears and injuries?
At one point, it was thought that static stretching would inhabit your athletic performance and should be avoided. But recent studies prove otherwise. According to the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, negative effects only happen when a stretch is held for more than 60 seconds. As long as you hold a stretch for less than this, you will reap the positive benefits!
There is a common quad stretch where you lean against a wall and use one hand to bend your leg up behind you, but the best way to do this is laying down. First, lay on your side and use one hand to bend your leg up behind you. However, instead of keeping your other leg straight, pull it into a 90 degree angle. Test this out — you’ll notice that if you keep your leg straight, you’ll be able to pull your leg farther back, but this is due to substituting lumbar extension in your back rather than actually stretching. Keeping your second leg at a 90 degree angle flattens the lumbar spine and keeps your back neutral.
Your calves are in constant use as you run up and down the soccer field! Perform a standing calf stretch, where you place both hands on a wall and stretch one leg behind you while keeping your heel flat on the ground. Then take a step toward the wall and place the ball of your foot on the wall. Press forward to deepen the stretch.
Hamstring and Glute Stretches
There are a variety of great exercises that you can use to stretch your hamstrings and glute muscles! Try a lying glute stretch, kneeling hamstring stretch, butterflies, and standing or seated toe touches. Another option is to grab a long resistance band and lay on the ground. Loop the top part of one foot through the band and pull your leg backwards toward your head. This is a great choice if you’re not as flexible in your hamstrings and can’t reach high enough on your leg to pull it down!
Even when you’re running short on time, it’s important for Orlando soccer players to take a few minutes to properly stretch and warm up — or cool down. For more tips and tricks, make sure you keep an eye on our blog!