A warm-up and stretch program prepares your body and muscles for sport. Do not rush your warm up, even if you are late to training. It is the warm up that allows you to:
1. Be ready to compete
2. Play at your best
3. Avoid injury
Therefore a good warm up should include a light jog, exercises and muscle stretches to help prepare you for sport, avoid injury and muscle soreness and will allow you to keep playing your sport with minimal risk of injury.
Stretching helps relax your body and increases your flexibility and should be part of your daily life. If you stretch regularly you will find that every movement becomes easier.
Stretching before a game or a training session helps switch your muscles on and decreases their tightness. Therefore, it helps get your muscles ready for exercise and reduces the chance of hurting your muscles during exercise.
Stretching after the game is also extremely important, as it helps relax muscles after a hard workout. By doing a good stretching session after exercise it will help reduce muscle soreness that sometimes happens in the next couple of days after a hard game of football.
How to Stretch
When performing the stretches seen in the diagrams:
· Hold each stretch for 20 – 30 seconds
· Repeat the same stretch 2 -3 times
· Make sure your breathing is slow and controlled
· Hold the stretch steady. Don’t bounce the stretch.
· Stretching should never hurt.
All you should feel is a mild tension in the muscle that you are stretching. The feeling of tension in the muscle that you are stretching should reduce over the 20 – 30 seconds. If it does not, east off the stretch slightly and find a position where the tension is more comfortable.
In summary, stretching is an important part of every athlete’s training program and should be performed before and after football training and games.