This article is guest blogged by Taylor Tollison of www.youthsoccerskills.com. In addition, Taylor has written a free 25 page ebook called “Modern Stretching” which you can download here (click, or right click and choose “save as”)
Athletes can’t help the team win or move their abilities forward if they are injured. Too often parents, coaches or players put all the focus on performance but forget staying healthy is equal if not more important. You’ve seen the equation:
sports performance training = performance training + injury prevention
A critical component of this is stretching and warm up.
Modern stretching incorporates far more than what I grew up on. In the old days you would jog around the field a few times to get warm then static stretch. Then we came to the point a few years ago where static stretching was bad before training. We came to this conclusion because studies came out showing static stretching would decrease power and strength. So we stopped. We have taken yet another step. Your sports performance warm-up should look like this.
- First, Foam Roll
- Second, Static Stretch
- Third, Dynamic Warm up
During the course of competition and exercise and life your body builds up these adhesions or knots in the muscle. Before we start static stretching or warm up we want to roll out those knots and improve the overall quality of the muscle tissue. Foam rolling prepares the muscles for stretching.
Static stretching got its name because you move out the a point of slight discomfort and hold that stretch for 10-30 seconds for 1-3 repetitions. I view static stretching as putting the muscles to sleep (not literally) because it can be relaxing and is not active. This is probably why at one point it was recommended to not do it before training or games. But this is why we have the next step.
Dynamic Warm up
One study showed a decrease in injuries by 30% through utilizing the proper warm up. (1) In my opinion dynamic stretching is a very critical part of the warm up process. It wakes up the muscles. It warms up the body and prepares it for competition. Dynamic stretching is the final phase in your warm up before practice or competition, not including any sport specific skill work done.
To prepare the body for competition or training use a thorough and multifaceted approach to warm up. Start with foam rolling, then go to static stretching, and finally dynamic stretching.
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