9 Soccer Stretches to Help Avoid Injury - Lotto Sport
- by Lotto Sport
- September 08, 2023
- 5 min read
Maybe you have your soccer attire laid out, you got a good night’s sleep, and you’ve eaten your favorite pre-game meal.
You’re ready for the big soccer match!
But what about stretching? Do you know which stretches work best to avoid injury and keep your body in tip-top shape? And when should you stretch? Before the game? After?
Don’t worry—we have the answers you need and 9 static stretches to help you out. But first, let’s talk about why stretching is important for soccer players.
Why is Stretching Important?
Whether you’re playing a big soccer game or heading out for a run, the same statement applies: stretching is essential for any physical activity.
Playing soccer, like any other sport, can cause certain injuries—tears, pulls, and cramps are common injuries that can occur without proper stretching or warm-up.
With stretching, you can decrease the risk of these injuries and improve your recovery time—we all know what it’s like on the muscles after a big workout!
When Should You Perform Soccer Stretches?
There’s a lot of debate on the right time to perform stretches for athletics. Some say it’s best done before, while others claim that after physical activity is the best time to stretch.
In general, it’s best to perform a warm-up routine before an activity and static stretches after an activity.
How Do You Warm Up Before a Soccer Match?
Now that we know we should only stretch after a match, what can we do to warm-up beforehand?
It’s just as important to know how to warm up before a soccer match as it is to know proper stretches.
Warm-ups are all about moving the joints and getting the heart pumping. Here are a few ideas for warm-ups before a soccer game:
- Hip swings
- Trunk rotations
- Jumping jacks
- Jogging in place
- High knees
- Ankle rolls
The best warm-ups incorporate your whole body and get everything moving and working together. You may play soccer with your feet, but your upper body is used throughout the game, too!
9 Static Soccer Stretches to Help Avoid Injury After Soccer
The game is over, you played a brilliant match, and you’re ready to unwind.
But first, you need to stretch.
Here are 9 static stretches you can use to ensure your body stays pristine after a match.
Standing Quad Stretch
The standing quad stretch is one of the most common stretches used in sports or athletics. You’ve probably seen this one many times before—it’s perfect for stretching out the muscles in your quads.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. If you need to, use something to support yourself, such as a chair.
- Bend your leg at the knee, bringing your heel up to your backside. Hold your foot with the same hand.
- Stand straight up and engage your core—you should feel a stretch in your quad. You’ll also want to keep your knees close together.
- Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Standing Calf Stretch
The calves occasionally get left out of stretching routines, which can cause some issues. After all, they’re used in virtually every movement you make on the field!
This standing calf stretch can help you stretch out those muscles and relieve some soreness.
- Stand facing a wall roughly a foot away.
- Pull one leg behind with both feet remaining completely flat.
- Lean into the wall and support yourself with your hands—you should feel a stretch in the calf that is trailing behind.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, then switch legs.
Lying Glute Stretch
Your glutes are another muscle group used in just about every type of physical activity—including soccer.
The lying glute stretch is ideal for helping these muscles recover. Here’s how to do it.
- Lie down flat on your back.
- Bring one knee to your chest and hold it in place with your hands just below your knee.
- Pull your leg toward you—you should feel the stretch in your glutes.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, and then switch to your other leg.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Quads are crucial for soccer, but so are your hamstrings!
After a big game, your hamstrings will get used a lot. With the seated hamstring stretch, you can relieve some of the tension and feel much better on your drive home.
- Sit on the floor and extend your legs straight out.
- Reach forward and grab your feet, bending at the waist and keeping your knees straight.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Hip Flexors Stretch
Your hip flexors help bring your legs to your torso—this is used heavily for kicking a soccer ball with power!
Because of this, you’ll want a great stretch to help them recover after a match.
- Begin in a split stance with one foot in front of the other.
- Bend your knee to approximately 90 degrees with your hands on your knee for support.
- Press down with your hands and move your hips forward—you should feel the stretch in your front hip, groin, and thigh.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Ready to stretch those inner thighs?
This one is often called the “butterfly stretch”—the shape made by your legs looks like the wings of a butterfly.
- Sit down on the floor with your legs in front of you.
- Pull both legs in with the soles of your feet touching each other.
- Rest your elbows on your knees and hold your ankles.
- Press gently on your thighs with your elbows, feeling the stretch in your inner thighs.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Lower Back Stretch
Here’s a simple stretch you can do for your lower back and your hips at the same time—both parts of your body that you’ll be using a lot in soccer.
- Start in a lunge position—one knee on the floor, one leg extended in front of you.
- Rest the same elbow inside your extended leg. For example, if you’re starting with your left leg out, rest your left elbow on the inside of that leg.
- Press that arm into your knee while extending the other arm behind your body—you should feel your lower back stretching.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg and arm.
After a full match of soccer, we wouldn’t be surprised if your Achilles tendon is sore.
The same goes for your heels—both are used throughout a game.
Luckily, there’s a stretch you can do for both.
- Similar to the calf stretch, face a wall about an arm’s length away.
- Support yourself on the wall with your hands and put one of your feet behind you.
- Bend both knees and push the wall away from you—you should feel the stretch in your heels and Achilles tendon at this point. You can also get deeper by setting your hips lower.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds per foot.
IT Band Stretch
If you’re not sure what an iliotibial (IT) band is, it’s a grouping of fibers that runs along the outside of your thighs. Its primary purpose is to stabilize your joints, and without stretching after a soccer match, you could make it sore.
- Start by standing up straight.
- Cross one leg behind the other—for this example, we’ll start with the right leg behind the left.
- Lean toward the left—you should feel a stretch in the IT band. You can also lift your arm in the air and bend your knee slightly for more of a stretch.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds, and then repeat by mirroring this movement with the opposite leg and leaning to the other side.
Perform These Stretches After a Match to Avoid Injury and Feel Better
Soccer is a fantastic way to stay in shape, compete, and have fun—all at the same time.
With these 9 stretches, you’ll be able to reap all the benefits of soccer without causing any injury. Now get out on the field and have some worry-free fun!