Are you starting the healthy habit of running? Maybe you’re looking for ways to improve or add to your current regiment. Whatever the case, stretching before a run is crucial in preparing the muscles and the entire body for this strenuous activity. It will also reduce the risk of potential injuries.
Here, we offer you some useful stretches which you can perform before you begin every run.
1. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are practically necessary before a run and are one of the best stretches you can do. That’s because they emulate the act of running itself, which means that all the muscles you’ll use while running, will warm up during these stretches.
How are they done? You stand with your feet joined, and you take a long step forward with one foot. You then bend the knee on this foot to 90 degrees and the other knee until it’s almost touching the floor. Remain like this for a few seconds then slowly rise and repeat the same thing with the other leg. You can make about 10 of these lunges.
2. Calf Raises
As the calves are under a lot of strain while you’re running, you can help them out a bit by stretching them a bit before a run.
How are they done? Start by standing on the edge of a stair, facing in. You need to stand on the balls of your feet while the rest of each foot is in the air, over the edge. You can also hold onto a stair rail to keep your balance if you need to. Now start by rising on your toes and then slowly lowering the feet until they come below the stair. Hold for a moment and then repeat the same thing several times. If you want, you can do this for each foot separately.
3. Side Stretches
Since side stitches are a common problem for runners, side stretches can be useful as you stretch the torso that’s affected from this type of pain. You can do these while standing, or you can do them while you’re performing the kneeling hip flexor stretch.
How are they done? First, you bring your arms up over the head, and you lean to one side then to the other, bending only the waist, all the while keeping your abdominals tight. You can take these stretches a step further by remaining in position while bending for a few seconds on each side.
4. Around the World Lunges
Once again, you can stretch all of the major muscles used while running with these stretches.
How are they done? First, one of your legs needs to be stationary, and then you lunge backward with the other foot. Then you make a side lunge, and you have to remain there for a moment. Now, return to the center and lunge forward with the same foot. Again, make a side lunge. When done, you need to make a curtsey lunge which is done by bringing the same leg behind the other one and then bending the knees (basically, like you’re attempting a bow or dip.) You need to repeat this pattern five times, and then you can switch the legs and do the same thing again.
If you are a regular runner, or you’ve only known pre-game stretches and are not familiar with the ones needed before running, these four will undoubtedly help you properly warm up all the necessary muscles used in the run.
As an athlete, a lot of sweat goes into your practice, but a lot of it ends up in your equipment. After a while, a mystery odor starts to form. As the smell worsens, you realize it’s coming from your sports bag. And when washing the bag doesn’t work, and you want to rule out throwing it away, the only option left is to get creative. To help you remove the smell, here are a few creative ways to freshen up your sports bag before your next practice.
- Use Baking Soda with a Few Drops of Essential Oil
Take out a coffee filter and put in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. Carefully pour a few drops of essential oils and stir it into the filter. Baking soda reacts with the liquid so make sure you take your time. Then use a rubber band to seal off the filter, and put the DIY odor remover into your sports bag. Leave it overnight so the baking soda sachet can absorb the moisture and gives it a pleasant scent of lavender or cedar pine.
- Place a Few Tea Bags Inside
Put three tea sachets into the bag and leave them inside until your next practice. In a couple of days, the herbs inside the filter bag will release their scent and replace the odor in your sports bag. And you can use the same hack for your sneakers, too.
- Wipe It Down with Vodka
Vodka is a clear, odorless beverage with a very high percentage of alcohol. It works because when alcohol is applied to another type of moisture their chemicals mix and blend. As the alcohol evaporates when exposed to air, over time the odor will disappear leaving your sports bag odorless.
- Fill It Up with Dry Sheets
Toss a couple of dry cotton sheets into the sports bag to fill it up, and leave them inside for a couple of days. Because the sheets are dry, they will absorb the moisture left over from your sweaty equipment. Keep in mind though, while your bag will be free from smell, you need to wash the sheets.
- Toss in Some Lemon and Orange Peels
To remove the “mystery” smell from your bag, peel two oranges and two lemons and toss the peels into the sports bag. Leave it for a couple of days, then dispose of the peels and check the smell. Now, the bag has a fragrant citrus scent that you will enjoy.
- Freeze the Bag
Remove everything from the bag, place it into a ziplock bag, seal it and put it on a clear shelf in your freezer. Let it remain in the freezer for overnight or a couple of days. The subzero temperature will kill off any odor-causing bacteria, and leave your sports bag smelling much fresher than before.
- Fill the Sports Bag with Coffee
Put a pound of coffee in your sports bag and shake it for a couple of minutes. Leave the bag overnight, and then shake it again. After a couple of days, the coffee should have absorbed all the moisture. All you have to do then is use a vacuum to suck the leftover coffee from your bag.
Losing is a hard pill to swallow in any sport. So it’s crucial to accept defeat, remain positive, and move on to the next challenge. But kids don’t have this ability. For most, losing a game can be very disheartening. Coaches and parents have to step into these situations to recover kids’ self-confidence, teach them how to overcome defeat, and motivate them for the next game.
Listen to Your Child
After the game, take a moment to listen to your child. Allow them to retell the game and get angry if they need to, but only to an extent. Let them tell their story and expose their feelings to you.
But be attentive to what they say and how they say it. If the child is disrespectful to the official, teammates, or the coach, interrupt them and don’t pass up the opportunity to correct their behavior. The same goes if they start to break or hit things in their fit of range.
Help Them Understand Their Feelings
Getting angry, sad, disappointed, or frustrated is normal after a loss. It’s as much part of sports as it is life, and your child needs to understand this. After they finish speaking, let them identify their emotions. Ask them:
- How do you feel at the moment?
- Why are you angry/sad/disappointed?
- What would change those feeling?
- How can you reach that sort of outcome?
Remaining calm and leading the conversation in this direction will help your child reasonably cope with their emotions. As they age, their coping mechanism will form. It will let them rationalize the problem to find a solution.
Praise Their Efforts
Praise your child no matter the outcome. If they are accustomed to hearing words of approval from you when they do well at practice, commend their effort even when the results aren’t favorable. Praise their hard work and level of commitment, and get them used to the fact.
Instead of saying, “Congratulations, you were the best player on the pitch,” say “I like the amount of effort you put to help your teammates today. Great job!” It signals the importance of teamwork over winning, and that you will always recognize and acknowledge hard work in spite of the result.
Don’t Criticize Their Efforts
Despite the loss, you have to remain supportive. Never criticize your child. If you reprimand their effort or performance, it can put them off of sport altogether. So, instead of using negative language like “You should have done better,” use assertive statements like “I think you have the ability to do better next time.”
Additionally, you should offer to help them practice their game as a sign of support. Showing a genuine interest to work with your child as a way of overcoming loss, directs their efforts towards a more constructive resolution.
Don’t Let Them Be a Sore Loser
Teach your child to be humble in defeat, and graceful in victory. Win or lose; your child has to know how to accept the result and remain kind in spite of it. Teach them to demonstrate compassion by shaking hands and saying “Good game, and thank you for playing” to each opponent after the game. Learning how to use fair play to show sportsmanship will help your child focus on playing the game for fun, and not for the result.
You do not learn about leadership in the classroom. And, you do not learn it on the field. But it isn’t inherent ability athletes are born with, and both coaches and parents should look to teach young athletes to become leaders. Here’s how to do it through youth sports.
- Personalities Change
If your young athlete isn’t a natural leader, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach them leadership skills. The personality changes over time, and the soft skills they learn now will come in handy once the perfect opportunity presents itself. All they might be looking for is a situation where they can come through for the team.
- Leadership Requires a Familiar Environment
Leadership in youth sports associates with kids’ self-confidence. And that relies on making decisions and taking on responsibility in a familiar environment. You can’t expect your athlete to become a leader if they have only started playing for a new team. It’s going to take some time.
- Ability Isn’t a Sign of Great Leaders
Coaches often select players with the best ability to lead the team. That’s a mistake. Talent alone can’t win over the hearts and minds of the team. Self-confidence, determination, communication, drive, and empathy on the other hand can.
- Encourage Athletes to Make Decisions Themselves
Decision-making is a critical leadership trait. But making the best decisions in every situation isn’t an inherent skill. It’s crucial to give young athletes enough space to learn this for themselves. It might not be the best decision the first time, nor the second time, but being a good leader means knowing how to learn from your mistakes.
- Provide Athletes with Decision-Making Opportunities
Being able to make decisions also involves having an opportunity to make such a decision. Youth club coaches should always try and provide each player with at least one chance to decide for the whole team.
For example, in football, you might allow the QB to do a play at the start of the match, and an RB at the end of the game. The experience will make their individual in-game decisions much more successful.
- Encourage Academic Achievement
Reading will foster creativity and imagination in people. A key trait among leaders who need to find a creative solution to a challenge and make the whole team see it as an opportunity. Encouraging young athletes to focus on academic achievements will increase their capacity to observe, learn and be creative in the sports field.
- Teach Young Athletes to Lead by Example
Athletes are inclined to follow leaders who show sportsmanship and integrity and are more agreeable, humble, and aware of the needs of others. And these soft skills can be taught among young athletes.
Encourage kids to lead by example. And as a coach or parent, you should do the same. Inspire these leadership qualities in young athletes by demonstrating them yourself at home or during practice. Kids look to adults for guidance, and if you become a good role model, you will be able to teach them almost anything.
- Encourage Perseverance
A good team captain knows when to quit, and when to give 120% to motivate his teammates to do the same. Perseverance is a critical leadership trait as it drives people via deeds rather than words. If a team sees there captain struggling to carry the whole team on his back, they are far more likely to look inwards to produce a performance that will help him out.
Contact us at League Network if you want to learn about how we encourage young athletes to become leaders in their teams.
Getting cut from a team is disappointing. Any form of rejection is painful and stirs up negative emotions among children, especially if they have their heart set on something. But failure is also part of life, and a setback can be good for your young athlete.
During this hard time, kids will look to you as a parent for moral and emotional support. It’s crucial that you know how to handle this situation the right way, to help them grow, raise their self-confidence, and turn an adverse outcome into an opportunity for self-improvement. So, what do you tell your child after they’re cut from a team?
Listen and Empathize
Before you speak to your young athlete, listen to them. It’s important to hear them out and discover their feelings. Are they angry or sad? Do they feel they have disappointed themselves or you? Are they having second thoughts about playing that sport or for that particular team?
Knowing the answer to all of these questions helps children vent and express their emotions, and gives you time to determine how to channel them into a positive outlook. It also let’s both of you accept and mourn the failure.
Empathizing with your child also shows there’s nothing wrong with getting cut from the team, as long as you don’t let bad emotions consume you. And it helps when someone listens to what you have to say.
Sleep On It
Rash decisions never solve anything. While listening and comforting your child is good for their emotional wellbeing, making quick decisions can be harmful for their future participation in sport.
Instead, sleep on it. Allow yourselves to cool off before you come to an agreement. Both of you will think more rationally and with a clearer mind.
Afterward, find out what they want to do, and maybe follow up with the coach and uncover the reasons behind their cut.
It’s a Challenge, Not a Disappointment
Getting cut from a team can be seen as a challenge, and it’s important to emphasize that when speaking to your child. Seeing it as a setback can motivate them to be proactive and work harder outside the practice field.
Prove your support by offering to practice with your child. If they view your efforts and reactions as positive encouragement, it tells them that it’s only a minor problem.
If are glad to work with them on a problem, it helps you find a suitable solution together.
Make Simple and Constructive Suggestions
Once they have a positive mindset, it’s up to you to provide the next step. Simple suggestions like creating a plan can lead them to figure out primary long-term goals.
For example, you might offer to practice with them, that leads to a tryout for a different team or the first step in preparing for next year. You might also want to take their mind off it, and go to a pro game.
Whatever you choose, make it sound fun, supportive and enjoyable so the child will accept your proposal.
It’s Up to You
There is no universal blueprint for handling tough situations like this, but remember that your child is unique and your own. And if your child does get cut from a team, there is no one better in the world who can talk to them than you.
Artificial turf is a recent innovation in youth sports. But not everyone is thrilled about it. Ever since 2004, when long-pile artificial turf fields were introduced to soccer by FIFA, the number of such areas has been increasing. Simultaneously, the number of injuries among athletes also increased around the same time. It has led many sports professionals, sports scientists and other advocates to question the safety of turf fields, and ask: does turf cause long-term injuries in athletes?
What Do Scientists Have to Say?
The debate over the safety of artificial turf has motivated scientists to examine the question. According to research conducted on soccer players, there is a clear correlation between artificial turf and injuries among players. In most cases, the casualties included cuts to hands, arms and torsos, ankle sprains and strains of leg muscles.
In a separate study conducted on female soccer players, sports scientists confirmed the results and found that serious injuries were sustained more frequently on artificial turf than natural grass. The most common injuries were ankle sprains, which also occurred much more on artificial grass. Additionally, as the quality of the turf declined, it also caused the number of injuries to increase.
It’s important to remember that in both papers, researchers emphasized that players sustain injury either due to physical contact with other players (tackles) or due to the surface of the field.
What Do Female Athletes Have to Say?
In an interview ahead of the 2015 Women’s Wolrd Cup, Alex Morgan (US national team member) and 40-plus other international soccer stars voiced their concerns. She revealed her belief that there is a higher risk of sustaining injuries on turf fields and that recovery takes longer.
Additionally, Alex also said that she had trouble during and after performing on artificial turf fields. She emphasized that the turf made her feel more aches, pains, and sores than grass. That’s one of the reasons the female soccer players filed a lawsuit against FIFA and questioned the decision of the men’s World Cup not allowing artificial turf in Brazil.
What Do Male Athletes Have to Say?
Another problem of artificial turf is crumb rubber. It is a material consisting of black beads spread across the field to absorb moisture and make the surface less slippery.
Despite its benefits, crumb rubber is made from scrapped rubber tires which contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals like benzene. After being diagnosed with Lymphoma, former goalkeeper Ethan Zohn found a clear parallel between cancer and goalkeepers who played soccer on artificial turf.
Although inconclusive, keepers do throw themselves on the ground most often and end up swallowing the small rubber crums. Additionally, during high moisture, the chemicals evaporate rapidly, and the people closest to the ground (goalkeepers) inhale most of the toxic fumes.
Turf can cause long-term injuries among athletes. The number of injuries that can be sustained on turf is far higher, and the mentioned prospect of cancer makes it an unsafe surface to play any sport. And once you consider how much youth athletes spend time playing on these types of fields, serious investigation and a boycott of artificial turf until conclusive results are revealed to be the right course of action.