Warming-up before all physical activity is important because it gently prepares the body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Stretching the muscles prepares them for physical activity and prevents injuries.
If you're looking to learn more about stretching before playing sports like soccer, check out the below frequently asked questions answered by Tufts Medical Center physical therapist Nikki Guerin, PT, DPT.
Is it better to do dynamic stretching over static stretching?
Current recommendations are to use dynamic stretches pre-workout and static stretches after working out.
Dynamic stretches are repetitive movements taking the joint further through the motion with each repetition. This can reduce stiffness prior to starting an activity and will reduce the risk of injury. Dynamic stretching, prior to exercise helps to prepare the joints and muscles for movement.
Static stretches are focused on increasing tissue flexibility as well as increasing the range of motion. Static stretches are held for no less than 30 seconds allowing the muscles to relax for the joint to stretch further.
Please detail the steps of 5 stretches athletes should do before playing soccer
- Walking lunges with trunk rotation: Rotate trunk away from back leg (hip flexors and hip rotators)
- Straight leg walking kicks: with knee straight, kick one leg straight out in front, with the toes flexed and pointed straight up; reach the opposite arm to the upturned toes; repeat with the opposite leg and arm (hamstrings)
- Dynamic quad stretch/butt kicks: grabbing each ankle near buttocks and hold for a few seconds as you walk forwards (quads)
- Standing leg swings (side to side) (adductors/abductors)
- “Inchworms”: Hands and feet on the ground in plank, walk your feet towards your hands feeling a stretch down the backs of the legs (hamstrings into calves), then walk the feet back and repeat, holding a just a few seconds each time (hamstring and gastrocs)