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It's obvious that football players need strength, but really they need functional power during game situations. You must be flexible to apply your strength when you're blocking, tackling or performing other movements. Stretching your muscles regularly increases your flexibility and improves your range of motion. If you perform a complete stretching routine whenever you work out, you'll earn a solid payoff on the gridiron.
Warm up your muscles before stretching with at least five minutes of aerobic exercise. Perform dynamic stretches such as arm swings, trunk twists and leg kicks before a workout or a game. Do static stretches after your workouts. Hold all your static stretches without bouncing back and forth.
NFL physical therapist Brett Fischer recommends on the NFL website hip stretches to improve your agility. Do three hip flexor stretches while kneeling on your right knee with your left knee set at a 90-degree angle in front of you. First, extend both arms straight up and move your right hip slightly forward. Next, reach your right arm over your head and to the left while you bend your torso to the left. Finally, swing both arms horizontally to the left and then together to the right.
To stretch your hip adductors, adjust your starting position by moving your left leg as far left as possible, while maintaining your knee bend and then placing your left hand on your left knee. The three adductor stretches include moving your hips forward and back, moving them from side to side and rotating them clockwise and counterclockwise while in that position. Hold all six stretches for 30 seconds.
Repeat each stretch while kneeling on your left knee.
Stretching your legs can improve your speed and agility. Stretch your hamstrings by sitting with your legs extended and spread in a "V" shape. Bend from the waist, lean toward your right foot and try to grasp it with both hands. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Do the stretch in two other positions by leaning straight forward while grasping one foot in each hand and leaning toward the left foot. Perform two repetitions for each of the three stretch positions.
Work your quads from a standing position. Lift your right foot behind you, grasp your foot with your right hand and pull the heel toward your butt. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then repeat the stretch. Do the stretch on both legs.
Stretch your calves from a plank position with your arms extended to hold you up. Lift your right leg and stack it on your left, push your left heel back and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Do two reps with both legs.
Stretching will help whether you block, tackle, run or throw. Stand straight, interlock your fingers, face your palms up and extend your arms upward over your head to stretch your shoulders. Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and raise them as high as you can to work your chest. Lie face up, grasp a knee with both hands and bring the knee toward your chest to stretch your back. Do the stretch with both legs. To work your neck, stand straight, rotate your head as far as you can to the left and then gently pull your chin farther by using your left hand. Repeat the stretch to the right. Hold each upper-body stretch for 20 seconds.
About the Author
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.