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
Tennessee SC's Ronnie Woodard: 'Start teaching and stop yelling'    
Last year marked the first time a club from Tennessee won a U.S. Youth Soccer national ...
Hugo Arellano is latest player from 2015 U.S. U-17 squad to make first division debut    
Hugo Arellano, the USA's captain at the 2015 U-17 World Cup who signed a Homegrown contract ...
The Ghana Connection continues: Osman is national boys player of the year    
For the third time in six years, the Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year ...
Schalke's U.S. teens eye first-team promotion    
Missing from the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 U-20 World Cup were ...
Drink up: Hydration tips for summer soccer    
In a previous Youth Soccer Insider we discussed recognizing signs of heat illness. Now we will ...
Tab Ramos is bullish on USA after U-20 World Cup performance and DA progress    
The USA won its group at the 2017 U-20 World Cup and advanced to the quarterfinals, ...
And the Refs Who Do Care    
Recently, I wrote about the refs who don't care. They are the refs who do as ...
Heat Illness: How to recognize it in young athletes    
I am often asked this time of year about some strategies for coaches and parents to ...
The Refs Who Don't Care     
I was appalled as I saw my colleagues officiating. I was to ref the next game ...
USA has the momentum at Under-20 World Cup -- but toughest foe awaits    
The 17-year-old Josh Sargent has, for U-20 World Cup quarterfinalist USA, scored with his right foot, ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives