To me stretching is a key component of an exercise, or soccer fitness training program. Each time before going out to train you should stretch. This pre training routine or stretching routine is not your traditional run around the field, followed by static stretching. We’ve progressed to the point where we include dynamic stretching, and maybe static stretching (depending on who you listen to), and possibly more.
But what you need to ask yourself is this: are you open to change? Can you take your players into a modern stretching routine and think progressively. I would admit progressive thinking is not always best. Sometimes it’s best to just stick with the basics. But for exercise and stretching, follow modern trends to get more benefits.
- Before working out static stretching, foam roll and dynamic stretch. By doing this you extend the muscles, roll out poor quality muscle with the foam roller and warm up and activate the muscles with dynamic stretching/warm up
- By understanding the physiology of the muscles you will avoid critical mistakes. Read the physiology anatomy section it will help you understand why you hold a static stretch.
- Hold Static Stretches for at least 10-30 seconds for each muscle without bouncing and jerking movements.
- Keep your back straight in any stretch that requires the upper body to move downward toward the feet. This is very important if you have a bad back. I think most people who stretch their hamstrings round the back. Remember it’s a hamstring stretch, not a spine stretch.
- If you have an injury consult with a physician to decide when to return to stretching.
- Do not skip your warm up before working out. This means take your body through a full body warm up using dynamic stretching.
- Be consistent. I don’t recommend stretching consistently for three months, then taking three months off. Stay with it and stretch 3-6 times a week at least all the time-on vacation, on business trips etc.
- Stretch before and after each workout. The before routine can follow the advice in step one and the after stretching routine should incorporate static stretching.
- Stretch to keep the body balanced. You don’t want a right hamstring with 40% optimal flexibility and the left hamstring with 100% optimal flexibility. Keep the body balanced with stretching both sides of the body consistently and equally.
- Do not over stretch. Too much flexibility can actually be a bad thing.
- See flexibility as a segment of an overall fitness routine. Flexibility is not fitness; it is a piece of the puzzle.
Article Credit: Taylor Tollison