Stretching for soccer games is not a very new concept. Although stretching is very important in keeping your body flexible as you play the sport, the most crucial benefit of stretching is that it helps prevent injuries. Doing a few warm-up exercises before you hit the field can dramatically lower the chances of cramps, muscle tears, and other, more serious injuries.
Soccer is an incredibly taxing sport on your muscles. All that running, kicking and diving puts a lot of stress onto your muscles, especially the legs. With such a great amount of pressure constantly hitting your muscles, one of two things can happen: they tighten up, leading to cramps, or they weaken, which can result in major injuries. As much as your muscles are needed to move you up and down the field, they are also needed to support your frame. Without the muscle strength needed to help absorb the impact on your joints, there is a larger chance that the stress can tear your ligaments or fracture your bones. This is why stretching before a game of soccer is so important. Preparing the muscles and limbering them up allow them to better absorb the punishment they will be taking in the course of a game. If you are concerned about your own pregame warm-up, here are a few stretches you can do.
The basic lunge stretches several muscles: hip flexors, gluteus maximus muscles and a little bit of the calves. To do a proper lunge, place one leg in front of you. Slowly lower your body by bending the knee in front of you, extending the reach of your legs when necessary. Be sure to keep your torso straight at all times.
You should feel the calf of your rear leg stretching. After a few counts, bend your torso forward and lower your rear knee to the ground. This will stretch your hip flexors and gluteus muscles. Slowly stand up and repeat, switching the positions of your legs.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
The quadriceps are muscles on the front portion of your thigh, and are among the largest muscles in your leg. You can stretch these important soccer muscles by lifting one foot behind you and grasping it with the opposite hand. For example, if you lift your left foot, hold it with your right hand. You should be able to pull your foot upward a little, stretching your quadriceps.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings are muscles on the back of your thighs, and are also very important in soccer. Stretch them out by sitting on the ground with your legs spread apart. Turn your torso toward one foot, and then bend toward the foot as far as you can.
Knee and Ankle Rotations
The muscles around your joints will also need stretching. To stretch the muscles near the knee, simply bend your knees and rotate them in a clockwise direction. After a few counts, rotate them in the opposite direction. Do the same stretching for your ankles.