Whether you’re a collegiate, high school, or club athlete, you know how critical it is to properly warm-up before and after a game or practice session. Properly warming up prior to a game or intensive scrimmage can go a long way from preventing injury, torn muscles, or unnecessary muscle fatigue. The good news is that many of the common and beneficial stretches for soccer players can easily be improved upon with the inclusion of a wooden balance board, foam yoga wedge, or hedgehog pod balance disk.
In this article, we’re going to further examine 3 different types of exercises and how incorporating these fitness devices can further improve the functionality of them.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Properly warming up your hamstrings is imperative; if you don’t spend enough time stretching prior to playing soccer you risk the possibility of injuring them. Ideally, hamstring stretches should be done both before and after playing. The seated hamstring stretch helps strengthen the muscles needed for the rapid stop and go running that is associated with soccer.
To begin, place the StrongTek Hedgehog Pod Disc on the ground. Now, sit on the disc. Once you are comfortably positioned on the disk, straighten your legs out in front of you. Begin to bend at the waist and reach forward towards your feet. Gently grab onto the soles of your feet or bottom of your foot and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Once complete, slowly retract your arms back and bend your legs. Rest for 30 seconds. Then, repeat 3-4 times.
StrongTek Tip: it’s normal to feel a burning sensation in your hamstrings; the more you do this exercise the less noticeable this feeling will be. Just think of this as a reminder that the stretch is really working! If a stretch becomes too painful, stop and rest. Use your discretion and personal awareness to know your body’s limits.
Standing Quad Stretch
The quads (a group of muscles located in the front of the thigh) are notorious for becoming sore and cramped, especially after bouts of intensive sprinting. This stretch can be especially helpful to perform in the middle of a game when you’re on the sidelines and want to remain nimble and ready-to-go.
For this exercise, we’re going to incorporate the use of the StrongTek Foam Yoga Wedge.
Position the foam yoga wedge on the ground so your toes are located near the highest point of the wedge, like so:
Now, with the one leg not standing on the foam yoga wedge, use your hand to tuck your leg behind you until the heel of your foot is touching your buttocks. Keep the leg you’re standing on straight and try not to move too much. Hold this position for approximately 30 seconds and then rotate to the other leg. Repeat 3-4 times per side.
StrongTek Tip: Keep your knees as together as possible.
Low Lunge Twist Stretch
This exercise is extremely beneficial for opening the hips and stretching the lower back. If you’ve remained sedentary or it’s near the beginning of your soccer season, performing this stretch can be a great way to improve your flexibility and get back into game-ready shape.
As you did with the standing quad stretch, grab your foam yoga wedge and position it on the ground so your toes are located near the highest point of the wedge.
Start off by getting in a forward lunge position (your right leg forward with your foot positioned firmly on the foam yoga wedge). Then, place your left knee to the ground.
Position your right elbow on your right knee and gently begin to rotate your torso to the left. Then, use your left arm to extend behind you until you notice a slight stretching sensation in your groin and lower back region. Maintain the position for 30-45 seconds and then rotate to the other side.
Using the above 3 exercises regularly will keep your muscles nimble and ready so you can avoid injury during the season. Always remember to listen to your body and take things slow. Especially when starting out, it’s important to properly warm-up before stretching to avoid pulling a muscle.
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