Sports are a major cause of injury among professional athletes and other players. An injury can have short-term and long-term consequences, taking away the fun of the sport and the health benefits of exercise.
While it’s not always possible to avoid injuries when playing, participants can prevent the injuries by preparing before and after a sport by warming up and stretching. Stretching can play a significant role in preventing the occurrence of sports injury. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the importance and benefits of stretching hence neglect it.
How Stretching Prevents Injury
Stretching helps to increase the length of both muscles and tendons, thereby, expanding the range of movement that your limbs and joints can handle before the occurrence of an injury. For instance, a tight and stiff neck limits your ability to turn your head around. Keeping muscles loose and flexible reduces the chances of a hamstring injury or muscle tear. Stretching also helps prevent sports injury by minimizing soreness and promoting recovery.
Types of Stretches
There are many types of stretches that you can do before and after a sport.
Forward lunge – Involves kneeling on one knee and placing the other leg forward. Lean forward to stretch your leg muscles, hold, and then repeat several times. Repeat the process using the other leg.
Side lunge – You stand with your feet wide apart and bend one leg, then lean toward that knee. Hold for some time and repeat a number of times before bending the opposite leg.
Knees to chest – Lie on the floor and bend your knees towards your chest. Rock gently and hold for a few seconds and repeat it several times.
Seat stretch – While you sit legs straight out in front, hold your ankles and lean forward from the hips. Move the chin toward your knees and hold for a few seconds, and repeat the process.
Standing quad stretch – Using a chair or wall for support, raise one foot behind and pull the foot up toward the buttocks. Hold, release and repeat, then switch to the other leg.
Before doing any physical activity, including stretching, you need to warm up with some light exercises such as walking, jumping, and running. When stretching, hold each stretch for a few seconds and repeat a few times for each muscle group. After the sport, repeat the stretches to increase flexibility and help the body cool down.