Stretches For Soccer
With muscle and tendon injury common at nearly all levels of the game, maintaining good flexibility is of prime importance for soccer players. The following stretching programme focuses on the flexibility of leg and back muscles, all of which are repeatedly subjected to the dynamic movements involved in multi-directional running, tackling, and ball striking.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch - Spiderman
Take a large step forward with your left foot and, extending the right leg back, slowly lower your hips towards the floor until you feel the stretch. Then, place the palms of the hands, shoulder width apart, on the inside of the left foot, tilting the torso forward but keeping the back straight. To exit, slowly bring the back leg forward. Repeat on the left leg.
Calf Stretch - Inverted
Stand with feet hip distance apart. Bend forward from your hips to bring your hands to the ground, forming an inverted V shape with your body. Press your heels towards the ground, keeping both legs straight. You should feel the stretch on the back of your lower legs. To progress the stretch, increase the distance between your hands and feet but ensure to maintain straight legs.
Seated Abductor Stretch
Sit upright with your left leg extended in front. Bend the right knee and cross over the left leg, placing the foot outside the left knee. Use the left arm to pull the right knee further across and towards the torso to increase the stretch on the hip. The right arm acts as a support behind, keeping the torso upright. Repeat on the left leg.
Seated Adductor Stretch
Sit upright and place the soles of your feet together. Place your hands around both ankles and bring your heels close to your body. Keeping your back straight, apply downward pressure to the inside of the knees using the elbows, sufficient to develop the stretch on the inner thighs.
Seated Tibialis Anterior Stretch
Adopt a sitting position by resting on the front of your lower legs with your knees and feet close together. You should feel the stretch along your shinbone and into thighs to a lesser degree. Initially, you may need to support your weight with your hands on the floor to reduce the extent of the stretch, depending on your flexibility in this muscle group.
Lying Quad Stretch
Lie face down on the floor with both legs straight behind and the knees close together. Resting your chin on the back of your left hand, curl your right heel towards your bottom and grab the foot with the right hand. Maintaining a straight body alignment, pull the heel closer to your bottom until you feel the stretch on the front of your right thigh. To progress the stretch further, firstly elevate the right knee slightly by placing a folded towel underneath and then repeat the above process. Fully straighten the right leg before repeating on the left leg.
Lie face down on the floor with both legs extended behind and your hands planted on the floor next to the ribs. Slowly push up with your arms to lift the torso off the floor, extending your lower back. Keeping your hips on the floor, straighten the arms enough to feel the stretch along the front of the stomach.
Lying Glute Stretch Single Leg
Lie flat on your back and bend your right leg at the hip and knee. Interlock the fingers of both hands across the right leg, just below the knee. Pull the knee toward your chest. You should feel the stretch on your right glute and hip area. Straighten out the right leg and repeat on the left leg.
Lying Glute Stretch Single Leg
Lie flat on your back and bend your left leg at the hip and knee. Place your right ankle on your left leg, just above the knee. Grip the right leg above the ankle and place the right elbow on the inside of the right knee. To progress the stretch, bring the right leg closer to the torso, maintaining outward pressure against the inside of the knee with the elbow. You should feel the stretch on your right glute and hip area. To exit the stretch, release the right leg by straightening the left. Repeat on the left leg.
Lying Hamstring Stretch Single Leg
Lie flat on your back and bend your left leg to create a 90º angle at the knee with the foot in contact with the floor. Moving from the hip only, elevate the right leg and interlock the fingers of both hands around the back of the knee. Keeping the leg straight, pull gently backwards, reducing the angle between the leg and torso. You should feel the stretch on the back of your right thigh. Release the leg slowly and repeat on the left leg.
Lying Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Lie flat on your back with your arms out-stretched at shoulder level. Bend your right leg at the hip and knee and place the right foot over the ankle left knee. Using the left hand, grip the right leg behind the knee and slowly twist to the left, keeping the right arm extended to the side. Progress the stretch by pulling the right leg back and down, thereby increasing the degree of rotation in the lower back. You should feel the stretch on your right hip and lower back area. To exit the stretch, release the right leg slowly and return the back and legs to full floor contact. Repeat on the left leg.
Standing Mid-Back Stretch
With both feet close together and toes pointing forward, bend at the knees slightly. Bend the torso forward and down and interlock the fingers of both hands behind the knees. Push your spine upwards by pulling the stomach in, creating a curvature along the entire spine. To progress the stretch, pull against the legs, thereby widening the back, and push the spine further upwards.
Standing Chest Stretch
Stand tall with your head up and looking forward and your feet hip-distance apart. Gently clasp the hands behind your back and push the shoulders back and the chest out. Focus on bringing the shoulder blades close together and rounding the chest.