More and more injuries are happening in sports, especially to young athletes. Some sports injuries are unavoidable, they are just part of the game. But for other injuries, regularly stretching can significantly reduce the risk!
At Warren Academy, we help athletes of all ages, sports and levels improve their overall sports performance. Through building strength and speed, our athletes are able to unlock their full potential. However, regular stretching is needed in order to accomplish this, as well as keep athletes healthy on and off the field. Below, we go over the importance of stretching!
What stretching does
Properly stretching allows a young athlete’s core body temperatures to slowly warm up, as well as lets their muscles and joints loosen up. This gives athletes an increased range of motion which will help boost their athletic capabilities. Usually, stretching is performed before speed and agility workouts, practices and games. This is crucial in preparing your body for what is to come. Also, stretching should primarily be focused on the muscles that will be exerting the most force.
Just as stretching before exercise is important, stretching after exercise is beneficial too. This is one of the most overlooked areas of injury prevention. Stretching before workouts is for warming up and getting loose,” and post-workout stretching should be focused on recovery and growth. When athletes stretch after working out, they release lactic acid out from their muscles, which is a main cause of soreness. It also helps increase flexibility which is vital for every kind of athlete.
Here are some other benefits of stretching after a workout:
- Increased Flexibility
- Improved Blood Circulation
- Pain Prevention
- Increased Muscular Coordination
- Mental Clarity and Mind-body connection
What happens when you don’t stretch?
If athletes don’t stretch before and after exercise, they are basically limiting themselves and putting themselves at a higher risk for injury. It also will reduce the athlete's flexibility, which can lead to changes in normal muscle function as well as increase tendon tension. This is especially important for track runners or other athletes that are involved in high-running sports.
Which muscles should you stretch?
When warming up, it’s smart to stretch the muscles you will be using during exercise. In most sports, this includes legs (quads and hamstrings), shoulders, hip flexors, glutes and the abdomen. This allows athletes to be fully prepared physically for the exercise they are about to endure. When you are finished with your workout, it’s important to stretch the muscles that are sore or injured during this time.
Whether you are playing midseason or training during the offseason, stretching is essential for every athlete. Regular stretching will help reduce the risk of injury, improve your overall sports performance and ultimately help you excel on the field!