A Dynamic Approach
Traditionally athletes have been taught that static stretches before games are the most valuable. But new and emerging research is consistently demonstrating that a more dynamic approach to warming up is ideal. In a recent study comparing static versus dynamic warm-up routines in groups of male collegiate athletes, static stretching was found to negate the benefits of a general warm-up when vertical jump performance was tested. Furthermore, athletes performing a more vigorous warm up registered higher vertical jumps.
Considering that static stretching before activity may negate performance benefits and potentially put your joints at risk of injury, it is wise to focus on dynamic stretches prior to playing. Keep in mind that following a match it is more beneficial to cool down using various static stretches to support the muscle recovery process.
Standing Hip Front and Back Swing
TARGET Hip flexor/extensor, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back.
SET-UP Stand tall with the arm of the working leg extended in front of you and the opposite arm extended laterally for balance.
MOVEMENT Swing your leg front to back while maintaining balance on the opposite leg. Gradually increase your range of motion in each direction, with the goal of touching the swinging leg to your hand. (A) While your leg swings front to back, your hand should touch the foot at its peak extension. Perform on both sides. (B)
TIP If you struggle with balance, hold onto a partner or stationary object to allow an increase in tempo and range of motion.
Standing Lateral Hip Swing
TARGET Hip adductor/abductor, hamstrings, glutes, lower back.
SET-UP Stand tall with both arms extended laterally for balance, or hold onto a partner or stationary object.
MOVEMENT Swing your working leg laterally in front of your balancing leg by moving across the body (adducting) before returning in the opposite direction to extend the hip (abducting) away from the body. (C) (D) A right leg stretch involves moving to the left in front of the left leg, then swinging to the right away from the body.
TIP If possible, avoid holding onto a partner for your initial set to more effectively engage your core.
Supine Alternating Controlled Leg Swing
TARGET Hamstrings, hip adductor/abductor, lower back.
SET-UP Lie face up on the ground with arms extended laterally creating a “T” with your body. (E)
MOVEMENT Keeping the non-working leg flat on the ground, swing the working leg across and up toward the opposite extended arm before returning to the ground. Alternate legs. (F) (G)
TIP Keep a slower temp for this dynamic stretch in order to focus on stretching the lower back and hamstrings with each swing.
BENT-OVER TRUNK ROTATION
TARGET Hamstrings, lower back, abdominals, shoulders.
SET-UP Stand bent at the waist at a depth where you can feel a comfortable stretch in the hamstrings. (H)
MOVEMENT Remaining in this bent position, rotate your torso with arms extended side to side tracing a large semicircular arc in each direction. (I) (J)
TIP Try relaxing your arms while rotating to allow momentum to stretch your shoulders with each change in direction.