Whether you are a professional athlete or amateur, stretching is a crucial part of preparing for playing or practicing a sport. Stretching increases your range of motion and flexibility by making your soft tissues, such as muscles and ligaments, longer by decreasing stiffness. It can also help improve your performance in your sport, help with soreness after exercise and lower your chance of injury. There are two main types of stretches; dynamic and static stretches. Both of these have different purposes and should be used at different times in your workout.
Dynamic Stretching: Dynamic stretches involve functional and sport-specific movements that stretch the muscles to their full range of motion, increasing muscle temperature and decreasing muscle stiffness. Dynamic stretching should be done as part of your warm-up routine before any athletic event to help prepare your muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues for performance and safety.
Here are some types of dynamic stretches demonstrated below:
- HS scoops
- Bum kicks
- Knee grab
- Leg swings
- Walking lunges
- Torso twists
- Thread the needle
- Arm circles
Dynamic Hamsting Scoops
Dynamic Knee Grabs
Dynamic Torso Twist
Dynamic Bum Kicks
Dynamic Cat Cow
Dynamic Groin Stretch
Dynamic Walking Lunge
Dynamic Thorasic Spine Twist
Dynamic Adductor Stretch
Your cool down is just as critical as your warm-up! Performing a proper cool down after exercise allows for a gradual recovery of your heart rate, helps your muscles recover faster, and can prevent injuries, such as muscle tears and strains.
Static Stretching: Static stretching requires you to move a muscle as far as it can go without feeling any pain, then hold that position for 30 to 45 seconds. Static stretches should be used as part of your cool-down routine and like your warm-up, you should spend the most time stretching out the sport-specific muscles you have just used.
Here are some types of static stretches demonstrated below:
- HS stretch
- Calf stretch
- Quad stretch
- Groin stretch
- Adductor stretch
- Shoulder stretch
- Pec stretch
Static Calf Stretch
Static Child's Pose
Static Figure 4 Stretch
Static Gate Pose
Static Hamstring Stretch
Static Groin Stretch
Static Side Lunge
Static Quad Stretch
Static Upper Body Stretch
Injury Prevention: The Importance of Core and Glute Strength for Athletes
In sports that involve running, to run efficiently and injury-free, it is important to ensure sufficient strength and dynamic control of both the core and glute musculature. When these muscles aren’t working optimally, the body may compensate by using other muscle groups (such as the low back & hip flexors to name a few), which can ultimately lead to many different overload injuries. Over time, these improper muscle activations and movement patterns may end up causing low back, hip, lower leg, and/or foot/ankle pain.
Single leg stance exercises are can help you discover your muscle imbalances, as well as help, improve balance and core stability. By working one side of the body at a time we are forced to engage more muscles, especially the glutes and core, to keep ourselves stable without the other side of our body taking over.
While these types of exercise may not leave you feeling the same burn you'd feel in an abs-specific workout, you're working all the stabilizer muscles in your core when you're trying to perform a move without losing your balance.
Here are some single leg stance exercises demonstrated below:
- SL balance
- SL squat
- SL airplane
- SL deadlift
- SL squat
Injury Prevention Single Leg Squat
Injury Prevention Single Leg Deadlift
Injury Prevention Single Leg Balance
Injury Prevention Single Leg Airplane
Single-leg exercises can help pinpoint muscle imbalances, and they help improve balance and core stability. ... By working with one side of the body at a time, you don't give the other side the chance to take over—so you're basically forcing each leg to do the work without relying on any other help.
The Importance of Hip Mobility for Athletes
In addition to glute and core strength, it is important to train and maintain mobility of the hip joint. By training hip mobility you are maximizing the amount of usable motion in the joint which allows for efficient effective movement. Training mobility also improves joint strength and nervous system control over the joint. Just as our muscles require physical stimulation to maintain strength, our joints require regular movement and use to maintain health, reduce pain and injury occurrence. Improving hip mobility can also help to reduce low back pain and/or knee pain that may be occurring as a result of reduced hip mobility and control. In addition to your hip specific dynamic exercises hip CARs can be a great addition to you warm up routine.
Hip CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations) Exercise With hip CARs you are moving your hips through the greatest range of motion possible with tension and control. All of the movements should be pain free, however muscle spasms are normal in occurrence.
Beginning with your knee at your maximum height in front of you (maximum hip flexion)
Start to open up your hip by bringing your knee out to the side, while trying to maintain the height of your knee. Ensure there is no pinching or pain in the hip.
Once you’ve reached your sticking or end point where you can no longer open, rotate the leg inwards, and lift your foot toward the sky.
Continue rotating as your start to reach your leg back slightly into hip extension. Ensure your low back does not compensate.
End with your knees together, and then reverse this movement.
Article Written by Hayley Frandsen
Hayley graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology. She was awarded Kinesiology Co-op Student of the Year in 2020 for her successes during her work term placements throughout her degree. Hayley grew up a competitive dancer which sparked her passion for health and wellness in which she loves to share with other people. She is committed to working with clients towards their personal goals and strives to find meaningful and function-based treatment activities to facilitate this. Hayley has previous experience working with Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists in a clinical setting, and is excited to be joining the LIFT team!
Outside of work, Hayley is happiest when reading, testing new recipes, or when spending time with family and friends! Hayley welcomes you the the LIFT experience.