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As an athlete, it is so important to work the muscles that support the joints. For soccer, that means stabilizing and opening the hips, working the adductors and quads to support the knees, and stretching the calves and ankles to support the feet.
These 6 stretches are great to do before practice, a game, or on your days off to have the low body prepared.
Not a soccer star? These stretches are great for all athletes, before crossing training, or on your day off.
1. Bridge – Lay down on your back. Bring the soles to the mat, hip width apart, and close to the glutes. Relax your arms by the sides. Push in to the heels, lift hips, low and mid back up. Squeeze the thighs to keep the knees over the ankles. Dig in the heels, dragging them back to lift the hips higher. After holding for a few breaths, slowly lower down.
2. Figure Four – Cross the right ankle over the left knee, and flex the foot. Push the right knee away. Stay grounded here, or reach arms through and pull the legs in. Lean more on to the left hip and continue pushing the right knee away from you. After a few breaths here, lower the legs down. Then repeat on the other side.
3. Two-Legged Table – Come to table top, with a strong core. Step your right foot back, stretching the calf muscle and ankle. Shift the weight forward, float your right foot up. Trace a few big circles with the knee. Then extend the right leg back, keeping your right hip and toes pointing down. Reach the left hand forward. Pushing in to the two standing limbs, and thinking of opposition with the floating arm and leg.
4. Low Lunge – Lower the left hand down, then step the right foot through to the front of the mat. Melt the pelvis forward and down, inviting the hip flexors at front of thigh to release. Keep the right knee tracking over the middle toes. Step back to downward dog, paddling the feet out.
Repeat 3 and 4 on the other side.
5. Tree – Stand at the front of the mat. Bring the hands together at the heart. Shift your weight to the right leg. Squeeze in to the hip flexors and lift the left knee up as high as possible. Rolling the ankle in circles. Place the left foot somewhere along the inside of the standing leg (ankle, shin or thigh), pushing the knee out to the side. Push the leg in to the foot, and the foot back in to the leg. Draw your hip in to the midline to stand tall. Repeat on the other side.
6. Goddess – Turn to face the wide edge of your mat, taking the feet wide. Turn the heels in and the toes out at about 45 degrees. Bend the knees and drop the hips down low. Squeeze the glutes to push the knees out over the middle toes. Use the hands to guide the knees open further. Drop your right shoulder down and draw the left shoulder back. Repeat to the other direction. Come back to center, bringing the hands to the heart. Try to lift the right heel off of the mat, pushing in to the ball of the foot. Lower it down. Lift the left heel. Lower down.
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