In any soccer game or training the muscles of your body are going to be challenged in many ways. Since soccer is now a game of sudden bursts of energy with recovery, the muscles must be prepared to handle the instantaneous movements of stops -starts and change of direction. A warm up that raises the core temperature, incorporates the movements that occur in a game and gets touches on a ball prepares you to be successful on the soccer field while avoiding injury.
Unfortunately a poor warm up leads to the opportunity for a muscle strain, ligament tear or broken bone. In the past a typical warm up would be to go for a five to ten minute jog, then perform static stretching.
Static stretching is holding a muscle in a lengthened position for a period of time. The old standard was to hold a muscle stretch three times for a count of thirty. There are still many people that still do this. As time has gone by in the last ten years this type of warm up and stretch has gone to the wayside and is considered outdated.
Static stretching came from the rehabilitation field from lining up tissue in its proper formation after injury in its later stages of healing. Thus if you have healthy tissue static stretching will feel good but it is questionable as to whether or not it is effective for flexibility before a soccer game.
Take a typical hamstring stretch where a player sits on the ground and reaches forward to touch his or her toes. Does this player do this in a soccer game?
A soccer player is more likely to swing the leg forward in a follow through action for a shot on goal, pass to team mate or in jogging, running or sprinting.
With this in mind here are some movements you can do in a dynamic warm up to avoid a hamstring tear, quadriceps pull or groin strain:
-knee to chest
-straight leg raise (follow through on a kick)
-knee up to hip height then out to the side (an exaggeration of opening up to receive a ball)
-backwards movement (exaggerating the stretch in the front of the thigh)
-side to side movement ( -defensive jockeying – avoid heel clicking)
-heels to buttocks
– clapping hands over head
These movements may be done for count or distance. In between these movements there is light jogging. So you would start with a light jog for a minute or two then do heels up ten times then jog for ten steps then straight leg raise ten times then jog for ten steps etc. The key is to keep the body in continuous motion as this raises the core temperature of the body. All the movements mentioned above occur in a soccer game.
Towards the end of the warm up the pace of the jog may be increased and you may add a couple of sprints. Once you have completed the dynamic warm up you can now put a ball in play with simple foot work to get in as many touches as possible.
Combing these two elements will go a long way to prevent any soccer injuries.