To avoid getting sidelined, it is very important to prepare your muscles and joints with a warmup and stretching before you play. A warmup routine increases blood flow, raises the body’s temperature and improves balance, flexibility and coordination. Stretching after a warmup improves the body’s ability to contract and loosen, reducing the risk of injury.
WakeMed Orthopaedics and the North Carolina Football Club (NCFC) have partnered to provide young athletes and their families with information about nutrition and injury prevention, including proper warmup and stretch- ing exercises.
It is important to warm up before any sports activity. A proper warmup helps prepare your body and mind for the workout or event ahead. Start with five to 10 minutes of light activity, such as jogging or other dynamic exercises that target major muscles and joints.
Here are a few warmup exercises from WakeMed’s SportFit Soccer Program (always use proper running technique, posture and knee control):
- FORWARD JOG: Slowly jog across the width of the field and repeat.
- BACKWARD JOG: Slowly jog back- ward across the width of the field and repeat.
- SIDE-STEP: Slowly side-step across the width of the field. Repeat for half the width of the field leading with the right leg, then half the width of the field leading with the left.
- HIGH KNEES: Slowly jog across the width of the field while bringing your knees upward toward your chest as you jog.
- HIGH HEELS: Slowly jog across the width of the field while raising your heels off the ground.
- BRAIDING: Slowly jog sideways across the width of the field while crossing your feet step-over-step.
Stretching is an important component of overall health and flexibility. There are several guidelines that you should note before putting together a stretching routine.
First of all, be sure to warm up before you stretch. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Second, don’t bounce or jerk when you stretch. Gently stretch to a point of tension–not pain. Finally, hold your stretches for 30 seconds.
Following are some different stretches you may find helpful:
- NECK CIRCLES: Slowly rotate your head in a circular motion. After 10 repetitions, repeat in the opposite direction.
- QUADRICEPS STRETCH: Stand and reach back with your right arm and grab your right ankle. Bring your heel toward your gluteal muscle while maintaining an upright stand. Hold and repeat on the opposite leg.
- SPREAD-EAGLE STRETCH: Start in a sitting position with legs spread. Slowly lower yourself to the center with your back straight. Hold. Now reach toward your right leg with both hands and hold. Repeat on the opposite side.
- TRUNK ROTATION/PIRIFORMIS STRETCH: Start in a sitting position. Cross your bent leg over your straight leg. Take the arm opposite of your crossed leg and fix your knee with your elbow. Turn your trunk away from your knee toward the opposite shoulder while pushing your knee with the elbow. Hold and repeat on the opposite side.
- CALF STRETCH: Start in a step position with your back leg straight and your arms propped on your thigh. Push the heel of your back leg toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calf. The wider you step, the more you stretch. Hold and repeat with opposite leg.
- HIP FLEXOR STRETCH: Lunge forward leading with your right leg. Drop your left leg to the ground. Place your hands on your right thigh and lean forward with your hips. Hold and repeat with the opposite leg.
- BUTTERFLY STRETCH: In a seated position, bend your legs and spread them so the bottoms of your feet are touching each other. Push your knees down with your arms until you feel a stretch in your inner thigh. Hold.
- HAMSTRING STRETCH: Start in a seated position with one leg straight in front of you and the other one bent so the foot is touching the in- side of the straight leg’s thigh. Bend forward from the waist to touch your toes with your fingers. Keep your back straight and your head and neck in good position. Hold and repeat by switching legs.
- IT BAND STRETCH: On your back, bend your knees and cross one leg over the other so your ankle balances on the opposite knee. Place your hands behind your bent leg and push it toward your chest. Flex at the hip to provide a good stretch. Hold and repeat by switching legs.
Take care of your body and your body will take care of you. With proper warmup and stretching, you can keep yourself on the playing field and maximize your performance.
Stretching Tips courtesy of WakeMed Orthopaedics
WakeMed’s team of sports medicine physicians, therapists and nutritionists help players learn what it takes to perform their best while playing it safe. WakeMed Orthopaedics treats people of all ages–from little leaguers to elite athletes–and has extensive experience in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of sports injuries and cut- ting-edge procedures.
Many of WakeMed Orthopaedics’ sports medicine specialists are athletes themselves and have first-hand experience in the ways injuries can affect athletic performance. Whether you are a baseball player with an overuse injury, an occasional tennis player with a sore elbow, a competitive runner with knee pain or simply want to enhance your performance on the playing field, WakeMed Orthopaedics can help you get back in the game.