A Healthy Season Begins With Stretching

The star running back breaks into the open at full speed and “pop” he grabs the back of his leg falling to the ground in pain. While this scenario is repeated in football, and many other sports, shouldn’t we reduce the chance of it happening?  Stretching is a key weapon in an athlete’s ability to reduce the chance of injuring or “pulling” something.

Stretching and flexibility is an important aspect in preventing injuries, improving performance and decreasing muscular soreness. Stretching can be done in several ways and should be included before and after every workout.  Stretching the muscles you work and working the muscles you stretch is an important analogy repeated in many of today’s publications. Two important types of stretches, that should be included in a football conditioning/practice program, are dynamic and static stretching. Following a stretching program is important and may reduce your chance of missing the “big game” due to a muscular injury.

  • Dynamic stretching is often overlooked while developing a flexibility program. Dynamic stretching involves actively moving a body part, in a controlled manner, to the limit of your range of motion. An example is walking 20 yards while gently kicking your leg into the air. These types of stretches are important BEFORE the practice or game as a warm-up.
  • Static stretches are what most of us think of as stretching. An example of a passive static stretch is lifting your partner’s leg into the air to stretch the hamstrings. Holding these stretches for an extended amount of time allow the muscle to relax and be pushed further. These types of stretches should be performed AFTER the practice or game.

Football is a game that requires our bodies to be pushed to the extreme. Muscles, tendons and joints are also pushed to the limit on many occasions during a football season. Utilizing dynamic and static stretches as part of a pre- and post-game routine will allow your joints and muscles to become increasingly flexible while reducing your chance of injury and maximizing performance.

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