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Why Stretch?

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Stretching before soccer can seem like a dumb, boring chore when all you want to do is starting kicking the ball around. Here’s why you should always stretch, and some tips on how to go about it.

SoccerDivas.com, a site devoted to soccer for girls and women, has some great tips on stretching.

Why You Need to Stretch

Increased Flexibility Training your muscles to react to your wishes on the soccer field starts with having muscles that can quickly stretch and turn your legs in awkward directions. The more flexible you are, then the better your skills become. Speed, endurance, strength, agility, skills, and flexibility all work together to create a great athlete.

Preventing Injury Many injuries are caused by muscles that are not properly stretched. Cold muscles are dangerous muscles, and girls especially are at risk for major knee injuries if they don’t properly stretch before playing soccer.

The Basics

Hydration Fluids keep your muscles nice and juicy, ready to do what you need to do on the field. It is important to drink water or some other fluid an hour before practice or game time. You’ll see players cramping at the end of games when they aren’t hydrated properly.

Warm-Up Soccer teams will jog around the pitch before they stretch to warm their muscles before stretching. It doesn’t take much, five minutes or so will do the trick.

Breathing Proper breathing gets oxygen into your blood, which gets oxygen into your muscles. Keep breathing slowly, deeply, evenly throughout your stretching session.

Technique You want to make sure and hold your stretch 10-30 seconds, definitely not more than 60 seconds. Also, make sure you stretch your muscles evenly. Make sure you’ve stretched out your groin, thighs, and calves, and make sure you’ve stretched both sides of your body. Don’t skip the other parts, like your neck, stomach, and arms.

What Not to Do

Never Bounce Bouncing is bad news for cold muscles and is a very good way to strain or pull a muscle.

Don’t Overstretch Be sure you stretch to the limit your muscles allow. Can’t touch the ground with your knees locked? Then just hold your stretch to where you can.

Keep Good Posture Make sure your back is nice and straight while you stretch. Probably the two worst muscle groups to injure are your back and groin. Protect your back at all times.

If it Hurts, Don’t Do It! Before anything, always tell your coach or trainer if you have an injury. If you feel something pop or uncomfortable tension, then you should stop stretching or exercising. Being tough is different than being reckless, and you have to take care of your muscles.

Don’t Overextend Your Joints Be careful not to overextend your joints, especially your knees. Ankles, knees, and hips are the key joints in soccer. Protect them.