From tennis to golf to field hockey to soccer, stretching can help athletes prepare for games as well as help them recuperate after playing or after a workout.
Strength and conditioning trainer Barclay Spring emphasizes the importance of dynamic stretching to improve an athlete’s health and warm-up routine.
“Typically when you pull down you’re going to tighten back up, so if you stretch while you’re warm it’s pointless,” Spring said. “For pre-workout, you want to do mobility stretches that are movement-based where you’re moving through ranges of motion.”
Basketball coach Charlene Murphy is among the school’s coaches who use Spring’s warm-up to prepare for practices and games.
“The Barclay Warm-Up is a series of 10 stretches that are dynamic,” said Murphy. “All players are introduced to this form of stretching. I think it’s something that as a whole, the athletic program, in general, is trying to implement.”
Although she’s not on a team sport, sophomore Darcy Jubb utilizes equipment like foam rollers and elastic bands to help her stretch for ballet.
“The first thing I do is roll out with a foam roller,” Jubb said. “My dance teacher told me rolling out is good for getting rid of lactic acid buildup.”
Besides stretching, Spring said it is equally important to eat proteins and carbohydrates, such as eggs, yogurt, and fruit, before and after a workout.
“The best thing for cooling down is moving the metabolic waste around the body by doing more agility and movement, running or lateral work, or some kind of agility work,” Spring said. “Post-workout you can do static stretches where you are sitting still. Typically more flexible is less stable so you know you want to be able to be strong through ranges of motion instead of just being able to hit a certain position.”
While Spring helps students train and stretch for pre and post-workout, some student-athletes may need stretching to recover from an injury.
Athletic trainer and campus health professional Justine Li works with students to prevent injuries and to help when student-athletes get injured, specializing in stretches and exercises to prevent further injury and to help students recuperate.
“It’s important to stretch before and after a workout,” Li said. “Stretching before generally helps to prime your body and helps to prevent injury.”
Most exercises and sports do not utilize a full range of motion, but stretching helps the body move through its full range, according to Li. Stretching is not only important for sports and workouts but is crucial for teenagers as they grow and develop.
“As you’re growing, your bones are lengthening and your muscles have to stretch to accommodate them,” Li said. “Your muscles are a constant deficit in terms of mobility, so as your bones lengthen, your muscles are naturally having to accommodate the new length.”