One of the most monotonous things about playing sport is spending the time after a match or a training session to cool the body down and help the muscles on their way to recovery, so you can be raring to go for the next training.
However boring it is, a lot of coaches and athletes alike neglect this important process. Allowing the body to cool down slowly aids in the bodies natural recovery process.
Another thing that a lot of people don’t take into consideration is allowing the body to naturally lower the level of adrenaline that is coursing through the blood stream after exercise! Any excess adrenaline (which is actually a hormone) places unnecessary stress on the heart.
As a lot of young athletes tend to do, stopping immediately after a match or training session will allow excess blood to pool around the legs. This can sometimes lead to a drop in blood pressure, meaning recovery is again delayed.
So, to make things easy, i have gone back to the table format from my last Blog on Warming up and Stretching, for some consistency, and the fact that i like tables 🙂
Example for Netball
Decrease Body Temperature
1-2 Light Jogging the width of the court
Lengthen muscles safely
Increase Joint Range of Motion
Static Stretches for Leg Muscles
(see examples below)
Replace any fluid and lost electrolyte from activity session
300-400ml of Water and 100ml of Gatorade or similar.
I have included instructions for 6 stretches below, which are all pretty easy to do, and don’t take much time to complete at all, around 5-6 mins in fact!
Gastocnemius stretch – using a wall or something to push against, face the wall and place both big toes facing the wall with the foot closest to the wall about 10-15 cms away. Place both hands on the wall keeping the back leg nice and straight (no bend in the back knee joint) and the torso roughly at a 45 degree angle to the ground, slowly direct the front knee towards the wall tracking over the middle of the foot. this stretch should be felt in the tightest part of the gastroc muscle first. Find the place of tension, go a tiny bit further and hold for 30 seconds. If it is sore, back off the stretch!
Toes not pointing to the wall
Length from the wall you are standing. The more athletic/elastic a person is, the further from the wall they may have to stand to feel the stretch.
Heel not on the ground
Back knee bending
Soleus stretch – in the same position gently bend the back knee and place the torso into a more upright position. let the patient sink horizontally slowly towards the ground keeping the palms on the wall for stability. the should feel the tension immediately move from the higher gastric structure to the lower flatter soleus muscle. You can bring the back foot closer to the wall if necessary. It is important to keep the back heel firmly on the floor. If the heel starts to lift, go back into the original start position and start again.
If you find it hard to stretch standing up (only use this if its not possible to stretch standing) you can use the sitting calf stretch:
Sit on the floor or your bed with your leg straight out in front of you and put a towel around your foot. Pull your toes towards you and gently pull on the towel until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 secs.
Hamstring Stretch – Biceps femoris, Semitendonosis, Semimembranosis.
Kneel on the ground.
Place the affected leg straight out in front of you (knee extended). Make sure you are balanced. You may want to hold a wall or something sturdy if they are not able to balance well.
Slowly bend toward the foot of the outstretched leg at the hip joint. It is important at this stage not to bend the front knee. Find the place of tension, go a tiny bit further and hold for 30 seconds. If it is painful, back off the stretch!
This stretch is for the hamstring muscle complex that has an attachment site below the knee joint (hence keeping the front knee extended).
Hamstring Stretch – Adductor Magnus, Longus, Brevis
In the same position as the previous stretch, flex the front knee and lean forward toward the foot, creating a round 45 degree angle at the knee joint. Find the place of tension, go a tiny bit further and hold for 30 seconds. If it is painful, back off the stretch!
Peroneal Stretch – While sitting in a chair, lift your right leg and gently place your outer right ankle on top of your left thigh. After bending your ankle so your toes point down, grasp your foot with your hand and turn it so the sole of your foot points up. You should feel a nice stretch on the outer shin, hold for 30 seconds and release slowly and switch.
Quadriceps Stretch – Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis and Lateralis
Stand on one foot, holding the back of a chair to balance. With your free hand, hold the ankle of the stretching leg behind you. Pull your heel towards your bottom until you feel a strong stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for 30 secs.
Following this take in some fluid. Its often important to take in electrolytes as well as plain water. You lose a lot of electrolytes when exercising, through your sweat so replacing this is essential to a speedy recovery.
This concludes our mini series on warm up and cool down strategies for Netball. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to seeing you on the courts, Fit Active and Healthy!