Are You Warming-Up and Cooling-Down Properly?
Although it may not always be the highlight of our day, warming-up and cooling-down are two of the most important parts of playing a sport. Giving your muscles a chance to loosen up, your blood to start flowing, and your heart rate to gradually increase is a process. We all know you shouldn’t rush into practice, or fly home from a game without warming-up and/or cooling-down, but what’s the best way to ensure we’re taking proper care of our bodies so we can always be on our A-game?
Have you ever heard of dynamic stretching? Maybe you and your team already use dynamic stretching to warm-up, which is the most recommended way to warm-up. Dynamic stretching is stretching through movement and is a safe and effective way to prepare your body and give your muscles an extra power boost before practice or a game.
Some of our favorite dynamic stretches are:
- Walking lunges
- Power skips
- Walking knee hugs
- Arm circles
- Leg swings
- Jumping Jacks
Have you ever heard of static stretching? Even if this doesn’t sound familiar, I’m sure you’ve done static stretching (sitting or standing in positions for 10 seconds) with your coaches and teammates. This is the most common type of stretching and is recommended most for cool-downs to help your muscles relax. Static stretching may actually be harmful to your muscles in warm-ups!
Try a few of our favorite static stretches to cool-down after a game or practice.
- Standing toe touches
- Sitting toe touches
- Gentle cross-body arm pulls/stretches
- Gentle elbow pull/stretch
- Gentle standing quad pulls/stretches
- Sitting spinal twists
- Butterfly hip openers
Both warm-ups and cool-downs should take roughly ten minutes, target various muscles and joints, and ensure your body is fully warm before hitting the field, or cool before hitting the locker room and calling it a day!
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