I'm an athlete. Is stretching appropriate for my pre-game routine?

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Stretching can be a vital component for your pre-game routine. It is important that your stretching routine is individualized to your needs and task & goal specific. The first step is to identify what areas of your body are problematic (soft tissue dysfunction, joints that do not have adequate range of motion). These problems do not have to be task or sport specific, but could decrease performance within your game. Self massage and static stretching can be implemented to release knots, break up adhesions, and lengthen tighten muscles. Once this has been accomplished, dynamic movements that are task and goal specific can be worked on. For example, if the sport is golf the moves should put your body in positions that look like the height of your backswing and follow through swing. Consideration should be also placed on not only on the skeletal and muscular system, but also the cardiorespiratory system. If the specific task/goal has you in heart rate zone 2 or heart rate zone 3, pre-game moves should also work you through those zones.

Yes, stretching prior to athletics is very appropriate. Think of your pre-game routine as a 4 step process. Step 1 involves self-massage with the foam roller. Place your body weight on the foam roll and move slowly up a muscle, searching for tender areas or knots in the muscle. Once you find a tender area, stop and hold the pressure for 30 seconds. The self-massage helps to release tension in the muscle and since the muscle will be relaxed this is an excellent time to follow with a static stretch for the same muscle. Step 2 involves static stretching (stretches that are held for 30 seconds) to help increase muscle length. Step 3 involves movement-oriented body weight exercises that are performed at faster speeds to help prepare the muscles for higher-intensity, faster movements such as those involved in sports. A few examples include squats, squats on a single-leg and tube walking. Perform ten controlled repetitions of each exercise. Step 4 involves performing your remaining pre-game sport-specific exercises.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.