STACK's loyal readers know the importance of a quick and efficient dynamic warm-up to get their muscles prepped before a workout. You may not realize, however, that the brief time after a satisfying workout or practice is just as crucial. A fresh shower, a home-cooked dinner and Facebook beckon, but you should first devote a few minutes to a cool down to get your body ready for tomorrow's action.
As muscles are cooling down after practice, Duke men's soccer speed and conditioning coordinator Jeff Howser looks to train the body to be quick off the ground. He has his Blue Devils skip and walk for five to eight minutes, interspersed with light jogging. Howser notes that jogging promotes long ground-contact time, so he recommends jogging sparingly between fast-paced skips and walking.
To protect a soccer player's most valuable weapons, his legs, the Blue Devils also perform a Three-Way Groin/Hip Stretch and Straddle Stretch variations.
"Stretching basically helps range of motion and helps [soccer players] recover for the next day's activity," Howser says. "Soccer players play with their hips down, so if they don't have a good range of motion in their hips, they tend to drop and turn on a rotational basis."
Three-Way Groin/Hip Stretch
• Squat with arms overhead, hips down and weight back; hold position for 15 to 20 seconds
• Rotate left, drop right knee to ground and push hips forward; hold stretch for 10 to15 seconds
• Rotate all the way to right, drop left knee to ground and push hips forward; hold position for 10 to 15 seconds
Sets/Reps: 2x15-20 seconds each variation
Coaching Points: Avoid leaning too far forward in center position // Focus on full range of motion during each stretch variation
• Position feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
• Bend at waist and stretch down until hands are on ground
• Lift toes and sit back on heels to intensify stretch
Adaptation #1: Position feet extremely wide in a "Y" pattern and place head between legs
Adaptation #2: Bend knees slightly to get a higher hamstring stretch, then straighten legs to work full range of motion
Sets/Reps: 1x30 seconds
Coaching Points: Hold each position so muscles can release and relax // Use a straight-knee posture to stretch behind knees
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock