October 5, 2022

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Importance of Stretching for the Young Athlete

Although stretching can be a neglected part of your exercise or sport-related activities, it is essential for any physical therapy or conditioning program. Stretching promotes wellness and decreases your risk of injury.

Why is stretching so important

Stretching correctly will improve flexibility and make it easier to move. Proper stretching can improve and increase motion in your joints, increase blood circulation, and reduce stiffness. Stretching can also reduce muscle soreness and delayed-onset pain, increase athletic performance, and lower the risk of tendon injuries.

It is crucial to know how to stretch properly and which muscle groups to target. The tightest muscles are often the hamstrings and hip flexors, quadriceps, calves, chest, and quadriceps. Stretching properly can improve flexibility and range of motion. This will increase blood flow, decrease stiffness and reduce the chance of injury.

When should you stretch?

Static stretches are recommended after engaging in strenuous activity, exercising, or participating in an event. Static stretches target specific muscles depending on where you are at the moment. The goal is to lengthen just beyond the point of mild pulling. For 30-60 seconds, the static stretch should be done in the same place for two to three times. It is common for athletes to do a dynamic warm up before participating in sport-related activities, and static stretches following activities. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching should be done at least twice per week. You should also be able to identify and comprehend which stretching exercises would benefit you, based on your limitations.

It is encouraged to stretch:

  • If the range of motion is restricted
  • Before or after intense exercise.
  • Your sport-specific conditioning program should include a warm-up/cool-down session for your team before or after participating in a sporting event.

Is it okay to stretch?

  • Excessive movement of a joint by someone
  • A recent fracture in an athlete
  • A sudden increase in inflammation or swelling
  • If you feel a sharp pain while trying to stretch

Stretching tips

  • Recognize which muscle you wish to stretch
  • Before you begin stretching, make sure your muscles are warm.
  • Each stretch should be held for between 30-60 seconds
  • Stretch painlessly
  • Stretch at least 2-3 times per week.

You should remember that stretching doesn’t guarantee you won’t get hurt. Overuse injuries are more common in activities that require repetitive movements. Stretching will not prevent them. Other important factors, such as strength training and endurance training are essential for reducing injury risk. If you or your child require assistance with stretching and exercise, please consult your pediatrician.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At https://theapexperf.com/ we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one-on-one training, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!