Improve Your Soccer Performance With These 4 Stretches
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Soccer is a fast sport that requires athletes to sprint, dribble, and change direction very quickly. Even the players who are not involved in the play are running up and down the field often. When the ball does come, players need quick bursts of speed to dribble and shoot or hustle back for defense.Â
It is essential for soccer players to have open hips in order to keep up with the fast pace on the field. Stretching the hip flexors helps soccer players with the ability to change directions smoothly and quickly. Well-stretched hamstrings improve a player’s range of motion. A hamstring injury is common and can take a player out of the game for weeks. Players perform at their best knowing their legs are strong and resilient.Â
Here are four poses you can do with your soccer player to open the hips and lengthen the hamstrings.
Why it’s good: Squat pose stretches your hips, groin, lower hamstrings, and ankles. It also keeps your pelvic and hip joints healthy.
How to do this: Stand with your feet about yoga mat-width apart with your toes pointing out and your heels pointing in. Bend your knees deeply into a squat position with your butt in line with your hips. Place your fingertips on the ground in front of you, keeping your elbows inside your knees. Sink your heels as far as you can, and lower your butt toward the mat. Take five deep breaths.
Why it’s good: Forward fold opens the entire backside of the body. Feel the stretch from your heels to calves, from your hamstrings to hips, and all along your entire spine.
How to do this: From squat pose, raise your butt up while keeping your fingertips on the ground. Heel-toe your feet closer together, to about hip-width distance apart. Your toes should be facing straight ahead, and your hands even with your feet. Let your head and neck relax, as you place your gaze at the back of your mat. Keep a slight bend in your knees and lengthen at the waist, with the hips over the ankles. Take five deep breaths.Â Â
Why it’s good:Â Half splits are a great stretch for opening the hamstrings. It can ease the tightness that running on a soccer field can cause.Â
How to do this: Start by coming to your hands and knees, and step one leg between your hands to come into a low lunge. Raise your back hip above the knee while straightening your front leg. Keep your front heel on the ground, with your toes pointing up. Try to lengthen your spine as you reach your chest forward towards the front leg. You can have your hands on the ground, or on blocks to give you more space. Stay for five long, steady breaths.
Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
Why it’s good: Wide angle seated forward bend is a great pose for creating space in the groin and inside the legs while strengthening your spine.Â
How to do this: Sit with your legs straight and wide apart like a “V” on the floor. Take your hands behind your back, your fingers facing forward, and lift the sternum. You might find a good stretch by sitting up straight, so you can stay upright. If not, hinge from the hips and slowly walk your hands forward. As soon as you find yourself bending from the waist, stop going further and keep your spine straight. Stay for five long, steady breaths.
Soccer players can benefit from these four stretches to open the hips and stretch the hamstrings before or after a big game or hard workout. Stretching helps improve flexibility, strength and endurance. Soccer players who practice stretching are less likely to be injured during a game. So stay speedy and have fun out on the field!Â
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Sarah Kostin is a freelance copywriter, published author, life coach, and yoga teacher. An exercise and outdoor fanatic herself, Sarah has a passion for writing about health, wellness, fitness, yoga, and living your best life.