7 Health Benefits of Playing Soccer

1.  ENDURANCE – Ability to do multiple contractions repeated over a long duration.

2.  TEAMWORK – Each player must rely on the next to reach a goal. 

3.  TONE MUSCLES – The constant stop and go mimics interval training.

4.  BRAIN BUILDING –  You’re alert to anticipate what IS happening & what COULD. 

5.  BONE STRENGTH –  Headers, throw-ins, kicking keep you strong.

6. GREAT FOR YOUR HEART – Non-stop running really gets the heart pumping.

7. BURNS CALORIES – Hundreds of calories burned. Midfielder runs up to 5 miles. 

Why You Need to Stretch

Reasons why stretching is so important for soccer players:

  • Increase Flexibility – A good athlete is flexible. Flexibility works with speed, endurance, strength, agility, and skills to create your total athletic ability.


  • Prevent Injury – Flexibility limits risk of sports injury. Studies show female soccer players are at higher risk for knee injuries; stretching during all practice and games helps prevent that.  Always warm-up before stretching.  So important. 

    The Basics

  • Hydration – Drink plenty of fluids before you exercise to give your muscles the fluids necessary to perform to their best,.


  • Warm-Up – Always warm up before stretching. Jogging or jumping jacks for 5-10 minutes will warm-up the muscles.


  • Breathing – While stretching, remember to breathe slowly and evenly to increase oxygen to your body.


  • Stretch for the right length of time – hold each stretch for at least 10-30 seconds maximum.


  • Stretch evenly – stretch both legs, arms equally. Stretch all of your muscle groups. Don’t stretch the front of your thighs (quadriceps) without stretching the back of the thighs (hamstrings). Also, stretch your whole body, not just your legs – stretch your arms, back, neck, stomach, chest, etc.

    What NOT to do

  • Don’t Bounce – Use slow even movements when stretching, bouncing places too much stress on your muscles and joints.


  • Do Not Over Stretch – Be patient, and never force your joints to go further than they want to.


  • Keep Good Posture – Keep your back straight while stretching, or you risk injuring your back muscles.


  • Do Not Overextend Your Joints - Hyperextending your joints (bending them farther than they were meant to go can cause injury, and does not help you in any way. Female soccer players should pay special attention to their knees, to avoid injury.


  • If It Hurts…DON’T DO IT – Always listen to your body. Stretching correctly, you should feel tension on the muscles, and possibly some discomfort – If you have any sharp or serious pain during a stretch or exercise – STOP!, you may doing harm to your body. Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right, listen to it.


  • If you do have an injury, ask your doctor about any exercise or stretching and follow their advice



    WHAT TO EAT:  Soccer Nutrition and Carbohydrates 


    The slow and fast running which you utilize may easily deplete your glycogen stores. To avoid that you need to eat quality carbohydrates.

    Research have shown that amateur soccer players only eat 1300 calories of carbohydrate/day, which is far below the recommended level of 2300 to 2900 calories.

    The main energy source for your muscles are the glycogen fuels. Glycogen is produced from carbohydrates you eat (apples, bananas, bread, milk etc). It is vital for your performance to have enough glycogen. If not, you will have a fatigue felling, your concentration will be poor and recovering from a match/practice will take longer time.

    If your glycogen fuels are low in the beginning of a game, you will most likely have few carbohydrates left in your muscles at the beginning of second half. This simply means that your performance will decrease significantly. You will for example run slower, sometimes by as much as 40-50 % compared to your first half of the match. Your cover distance will also be reduced by 25% or more with low glycogen fuels.

    Do I need to eat fat?
    Well, as soccer player you will burn many calories but the fat should still be minimized in your soccer food because it is not an efficient provider of energy. This doesn’t mean that a diet for soccer players should not contain fat, instead, you should try to keep it low, because in long running sports, like soccer, your body will use glycogen fuel which is found mainly in carbohydrates.

    What about protein, do I need it?
    As soccer player you need normally to eat 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day (1.4 to 1.7 g/kg/day). Protein is a vital part of your soccer diet as it will repair your muscles plus boost your immune system. You may also use protein as fuel before practicing sessions or match but it doesn’t give you any boost of energy as carbohydrates does. Some good sources of protein include fish, chicken, milk and yogurt.

    Is it necessary to drink much water?
    During your practice or matches, your body will lose a lot of water (especially in hot and warm weather kinds). By drinking water you will be able to keep your body hydrated which will give a boost on the field. This is one of the most important parts of nutrition for soccer players and you should really put effort in getting it right.

    Soccer nutrition and sports drinks
    Sports drinks usually claim to boost your performance but they are just full of fast carbohydrates that will just increase your blood sugar for a while. This will not increase your performance to some high level. My advice is to plan your meals and only consume sports drinks when you really don’t have time to eat.

    When To Eat?
    The recommended energy diet for soccer players state that you should eat at least 700 carbohydrates 3-4 hours before the start of your game. After the end of match you should attempt to consume enough carbohydrate to replace all the fluid you have lost during the match.

    MORE STRETCHING TIPS AT LINKS BELOW:

Hope you learned something.

Stay healthy! :-)

    [photo: Saint Joseph by the Sea Soccer Team Champs Go to Italy in '09]

 

 

Read more on what muscles soccer works out: http://www.livestrong.com/article/479769-what-muscles-does-soccer-work-out/#ixzz1qULg1ILu

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