Stretching for soccer training - Safe and effective technique.

Athletes should stretch muscles (Take them through their full range of movement) bot before training, to maintain flexibility and reduce risk of injury during exercise, and after training to develop flexibility, or improve range of movement around the joints. Note: please see the bottom of this page for a link to the diagrams for all the followin exercises.

Structuring a warm up… Prior to training sessions or matches, a light warm up should be performed to mobilize joints, and raise heart rate or warm up the muscles, ready for them to be stretched. Mobility exercises are designed to release synovial fluid in and around the joints of the body (Synovial fluid is basically a joint lubricant that helps prevent wear and tear of th cartilage on bone ends). Raising the heart rate or warming up the muscles to be stretched is also important, as the muscles in your body can be likened to elastic. At a greater temperature, elastic wi stretch more, or further, and your muscles are no different.

…And a cool down Once the main body of a training session or a match has been completed, a cool down or pulse lowerer should be done, to bring the heart rate and body temperature down gradually, towards it's normal level. It can be dangerous to stop exercising suddenly (especially with high-risk groups), as cooling down aids venous return, or blood flow bac to the heart and lungs. Increased blood flow back to the heart and lungs means you tak on oxygen quicker and therefore aid recovery more effectively. This should be followed by post exercise stretches, after which a fun element could be included, to make participants laugh and go away with a good feeling.

Pre exercise stretches: A pre exercise stretch routine should be designed to be easy to get into position. The stretches need to be performed relatively quickly so as not to let the muscles cool dow too much before training, and only need to be held for around 10 to 15 seconds each fo maintenance of flexibility. Standing stretches are most effective for this. Stretching routines also need to be balanced, so that all the major muscle groups are taken care of, especially the ones most relevant to the sport. Sport specific stretches for soccer would concentrate mainly on the lower body or legs, all though a whole body approach is recommended. A good way to remember your routine is to start at the bottom and work your way up. A

a team's knowledge of stretching improves, the routine can be progressed to combine lower and upper body stretches to save time. Some upper body stretches can also be done whilst walking to save time. For examples of Pre exercise or standing stretches, including coaching points, see the next three pages.

Stretch.
(1): Upper calf or Gastronemius.

Coaching points.
Go forward over your front leg, back leg straight. Heel into the floor at the back, and foot straight. Front knee mustn't go past the toes, if it does move front leg forward. Back straight, head up. Hands on the bent leg. Body weight over the back leg, front leg bent to balance. Sit back into the stretch. Back heel into the floor, foot straight. Back straight, head up. Hands on the bent leg. Sink down on the back leg, keeping your ankles and hips on the same vertical plane, front leg straight in front. Keep toes of front leg down. Bend forward at the waist to find the stretch, keeping back flat, chest and shoulders open and head up. Hands on the bent leg. Grab the laces of the shoe, and pul heel towards bum. Keep the standing leg slightly bent.

(2): Lower calf or Soleus.

(3): Back of thigh or Hamstrings.

(4): Front of thigh or Quadroceps.

Push hips forward to find the stretch. Back straight, head up. Pinch ear, focus on one spot or use a partner to help balance. (5): Top of thigh or Hip flexor. Place one foot forward, whilst lowering the back knee towards the floor. The front knee should be in the same vertical plane as the ankle. Push hips forward to find the stretch and adjust front leg accordingly. Back straight, head up. Hands on the bent leg. Hold partners hands or a goalpost to balance. Cross one leg over the other and sit back into it to find the stretch. One hand can be used to gently push knee down to improve effectiveness of the stretch. Back straight, head up. Take one leg out to the side, keeping the toes forward. Shift bodyweight to the side, so one leg straightens until you find the stretch. The bent knee must be on the same vertical plane as the ankle. Keep hips forward, back upright. Hands on the hips, or bent leg. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, and the knees slightly bent. Place both hands on the inner thigh palms facing out. Arch spine up to feel a stretch, and gradually stretch up through the spine to a normal standing position, with your head up, back straight. i St d ith f t h ld idth

(6): Outer thigh and bum or Abductors and Gluteus maximus.

(7): Inner thigh or Adductors.

(8): Lower back or Erector spinae.

(9) U

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(9); Upper back or Rhomboids, Trapezius and Latisimus dorsi.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Clasp hands in front and gently pull shoulder blades apart to find stretch. Don't lock out elbows and fingers. Head slightly forward. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Clasp hands behind back and gently pull chest and shoulders back to find stretch. Don't lock out elbows and fingers. Head up. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. With one arm reach between the shoulder blades. Gently pull on the elbow with the other hand to find stretch. Back straight, head up.

(10): Chest and Shoulders or Pectorals and Anterior deltoids.

(11): Back of upper arm or Triceps.

(12): Front of upper arm and chest or Biceps and Pectorals.

Place hand, slightly higher than shoulder, on a goal post or partners hand, with your arm straight and to your side. Rotate your body in the opposite direction to your hand to find the stretch. Back straight, head up.