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Match fit: what stretches to continue in AFL off-season

  • Written by The Bulletin

Professional AFL players maintain a rigorous stretching routine during off-season to keep their physical performance at full peak in time for the season’s first bounce.

Whilst it’s also important to maintain a strenuous off-season exercise system, stretching is vital for decreasing injury risk and conditioning your muscles during the all-important pre-season period.

Grab some gear from the AFL shop online, head down to your local gym or park, as here we are going to show you some top stretches to continue in off-season:

  1. The runner’s lunge

Lunging is one of the most imperative athletic stretches, especially when it comes to running. It stretches the legs’ hefty plethora of muscle groups, including the glute and hamstring muscles, both of which can become too tight after a serious training session.

  1. Chest opener stretch

This is a great arm-based stretch, which helps make the chest more open, the shoulders limber and the arms more flexible. The stretch is perfect for anyone who is hauling heavy items or lifting weights, as these put a lot of pressure on the arms and chest.

  1. Across body arm stretch

This stretch is also ideal for the arms and shoulders, and it is simply ideal for strengthening the backs of the arms, making it perfect for anyone who requires top notch arm mobility, something which is essential for AFL players.

  1. Iron cross stretch

This stretch is perfect for completing a comprehensive full-middle body stretch. It stretches the sides of your hips as well as helping to elongate the spine. This is great for players who may experience hip soreness or any footy player struggling with lower back pain, as the twisting motion can help relieve lower back pressure.

  1. The butterfly stretch

This wonderful stretch is designed to help with groyne soreness. The groyne is one of most commonly pulled muscles in sports, so it has to be stretched in order to reduce injury risk and remain pliable. For the ultimate stretching experience, try pushing your knees closer to the floor with your elbows - it creates an ultimate groyne stretch that will help to reduce injury risk.

  1. Pigeon pose

The pigeon pose is a fabulous stretch for anyone looking for optimised leg mobility. It stretches out the upper leg muscles and glutes that might tighten throughout a more sedentary day.

  1. Seated hamstring stretch

The seated hamstring stretch is a long time go-to, and is commonly used to indicate an athlete’s overall flexibility. Not only is it a great hamstring stretch, but it is also great for the lower back. If you can’t make the whole distance, work your way up to it by reaching for your calves, then continue until you see improvements in the coming days or weeks.

  1. Downward dog

The downward dog is imperative to any yoga routine but it is just as easily applicable to athletic stretching as it helps relieve tension whilst stretching numerous muscle groups. It not only reduces the tension in your lower back and shoulders, but also stretches the backs of your legs, making it an all-round winning fitness routine.

  1. Cobra stretch

This is another stretch borrowed from yoga to benefit all athletes, and is completed to help create improved spinal flexibility. Stretches like this one are perfect for relaxing and lengthening the spine which, in turn, can help reduce or eliminate back pain.

So, keep on top of these top stretches during the AFL off-season, and you will be doing your overall fitness a massive favour in time for the 2023 edition!

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