by Jennifer Schwartz, Alexandria Soccer Injury Prevention & Fitness
What are active stretches?
Active stretching is an advanced form of flexibility training. This form is different from static passive and dynamic stretching. Placing an outstretched leg on a chair and using body weight to bring about a stretch is an example of static passive stretching. Active stretches includes a component of active muscle contraction called an isometric. An isometric contraction occurs when tension is created in the muscle group without a change in its length. These active stretches have two parts. The first is an isometric contraction and a subsequent light stretch.
Here is the 4 minute routine:
Best time to use this routine:
1. Morning of a game or training session
2. As a cool-down
3. In the evening before bed
What’s wrong with old school style ‘static stretches’?
This type of stretching is what a lot of parents and coaches were taught. Presently, the science has evolved and we now know that this type of stretching is ineffective for warm-ups and may not increase flexibility at all!
The ASA active stretch sequence is designed to target movements that are vulnerable to overuse that could cause injury to the lower extremities. It just makes sense to help these areas recover after stressing them.
For the travel soccer player each day brings a new opportunity to improve and adapt. To ensure that the player is able to take advantage of this they should be focused on helping their muscles and brain recover from periods of physiological and school stress. A fine line exists between expected fatigue and chronic fatigue. That line is quietly crossed when bad habits like an unbalanced diet or lack of sleep and high loads of soccer occur consistently. The active stretch sequence can help halt a deleterious cycle.