Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Methods for maximizing flexibility
by Dev Mishra, June 1st, 2011 1:15PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.

We tend to think of young athletes as naturally flexible but in truth athletes of all ages can improve performance for sports by maximizing flexibility. In very simplistic terms, think of your muscles and tendons as elastic structures like rubber bands.

A stretchy rubber band is generally capable of greater motion and power than a cold, stiff rubber band. You want your muscles and tendons to be as long and flexible as possible, which usually leads to better strength, power, speed, agility, and even lower injury rates.

But there is considerable debate about what the “best” and safest method is to improve flexibility for young athletes. Back in the 1960s and 1970s we started every practice session with a series of stretch-and-hold moves (called “static stretches”), and then went on to activities involving movement. But over the past several years the pendulum has moved the other way. It’s now known that “flexibility” is much better and safer through exercises done with movement, called “dynamic stretching.” We also know that it’s harmful to stretch a cold muscle.

Here are some general guidelines for dynamic stretching that can be useful in most sports and age groups:


1. Start with a 3-5 minute easy jog. The purpose of this part of your activity is to get the body warmed up and reduce risk of injury. As I said above, don’t move to stretches without doing a warm-up first.

Depending on the sport and your environment you could also do a line-to-line jog, a lateral shuttle run, and backward running.

1. Move next into dynamic stretching. There are many, many different types of dynamic stretches. Coaches of different sports will have their favorites for their sport, so what is outlined here is a very general guideline:

A. Straight-leg marching -- for hamstrings and glutes.
B. Butt-kicks -- for quadriceps.
C. Forward shuffle with hip rotation -- for groin/adductors.
D. Scorpion cross-over stretch lying on your back -- for lower back and hip abductors.
E. Handwalks -- for shoulders, core abdominals.

If you’d like to see some photos of a simple version of dynamic stretching for adults take a look at the Core Performance website. The folks at Core Performance refer to this phase as Movement Preparation and you can get a good idea of the types of movements we’re talking about above. (I have no relationship with Core Performance, I just really like what they do.) For soccer players, I highly recommend the Santa Monica Sports Medicine PEP program.

And finally, old-fashioned static (stretch and hold position) stretches can be done as part of the cool-down after activity.

Static stretches haven’t disappeared completely, they just come at the end of the training session rather than right at the beginning. There are literally hundreds of ways to do static stretching, and many sport-specific stretches. Here’s a bare minimum of stretches that target most of the muscle groups. For each of these you want the kids to hold for about 30 seconds and do 2 or 3 repetitions of each stretch.

1. Upper-body stretches
A. Across body shoulder stretch
B. Triceps back-scratcher stretch
C. Lower back stretch
i. Rocking on all fours
D. Lower body stretches
i. Calf/Achilles stretch
ii. Quadriceps stretch -- standing
iii. Figure four hamstring stretch
iv. Inner thigh/adductor stretch
v. Hip flexor stretch

Right now you might be saying “this would be a lot better with pictures and more detailed descriptions …” And you're right! So I encourage you to take a look at Core Performance and the PEP program.

(Dev K. Mishra is the creator of the SidelineSportsDoc.com injury management program for coaches. He is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in Burlingame, Calif. He is a member of the team physician pool with the U.S. Soccer Federation and has served as team physician at the University of California, Berkeley. This article first appeared on SidelineSportsDoc.com.)



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Five 'brothers' from RSL-AZ boost U.S. U-20 World Cup qualifying campaign    
Asked to explain his club's remarkable achievement, delivering five players to the U.S. U-20 national team, ...
Tab Ramos: 'The boys are starting to figure it out'    
"We know the important part of the tournament is how you end and not how you ...
USA already behind the eight-ball in U-20 World Cup qualifying    
The USA's quest to qualify for the 2017 U-20 World Cup is in danger just one ...
Tab Ramos on keeper Jonathan Klinsmann, captain Erik Palmer-Brown and the U-20 World Cup qualifying quest    
Tab Ramos, who played for the USA in the 1983 U-20 World Cup, now aims to ...
Girls DA Director Miriam Hickey: Federation is best suited to support clubs and coaches    
Miriam Hickey has been named Director of the U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy, that which off ...
Anson Dorrance on Girls DA vs. ECNL -- and why the focus should be on the youngest ages    
We asked Anson Dorrance for his views on the strife between U.S. Soccer and the ECNL, ...
James Bunce: 'Players all develop at different times'    
When James Bunce headed Southampton FC's youth program, its ranks included Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, now an Arsenal ...
Meet Tab Ramos' 20 players for U-20 World Cup qualifying    
The USA's quest to qualify for a third straight U-20 World Cup begins Feb. 18 against ...
Ankle Sprain: When can I play again?     
There's never a good time to be injured. As we come up to the end of ...
Boys Development Academy adds 165 new teams    
The Boys U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) will enter the 2017-18 season with 17 new clubs ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives