Studies suggest that stretching before exercise reduces your risk of injury, thus improving your performance. It has also revealed that warming and stretching can help you prevent post-game aches and pains.
Some sports activities demand more flexibility than others; gymnastics is one of them. However, because your joint’s ability to move through its full range of motion proves to be beneficial for every sport, improving your flexibility is essential to sports performance.
Different types of stretches
The static stretch is stretching a muscle to the point that you feel mild discomfort and holding that position for at least 30 seconds or longer.
The dynamic stretch requires performing gentle repetitive movements. Arm swings are a type of dynamic stretch where one gradually increases the range of motion of the movement but never exceeding the normal range of motion.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)
The PNF methods vary, but it typically involves holding a stretch while contracting and relaxing the muscle.
Ballistic or bouncing stretches
This type of stretch involves performing bouncing or jerking movements to increase range of motion.
Most athletes are most familiar with static stretching. But because different sports have different demands and require distinct ranges of motion, there are particular stretches that athletes can do depending on the sport they play. The following stretches will target the muscles that will be used most during the game:
In basketball, you use your upper body muscles the most to shoot the ball, provide strength to rebound and absorb contact. The core muscles have to work to keep your spine stable as you perform twisting movements that occur when catching the ball of throwing. The shoulders, chest, triceps, and biceps are all muscle areas that need a good stretch before the game:
- Put one arm behind your head touching the back of your shoulder
- Use your other arm to push the bent arm down and stretch
- Repeat with the other arm.
- Lie on your back with your legs flat on the floor
- Hold your right leg at the knee
- Slowly bring to your chest
- Keep the other leg straight
- Feel the stretch
- Lower the leg
- Repeat with the other leg
Football and Soccer
Football and soccer require power and strength in nearly every muscle throughout the body. For both sports, the lower muscles are involved in activities like running and jumping.
Here is a good lower body stretch:
- Start with a straight back and your arms at your sides
- Lift your right foot off the ground
- Squat back and down while standing on your left leg
- Lift your right knee to your chest
- Grab below the knee with your hands
- Pull your right knee as close as you can to your chest while contracting your left glute
- Step forward
- Repeat on the other side
Continue alternating sides and moving forward for the prescribed number of reps
Remember to keep your chest up. Don’t let your knee slide during the squat.
- Lie on your back
- Lift one leg towards your chest
- Cross your opposite leg (your foot should touch a little above the knee of your non-crossed leg)
- Pull your non-crossed leg towards your chest
- Reverse and repeat
- Stand on one leg
- Pull the other foot up behind your bottom
- Keep your knees together
- Push your hips forwards to increase the stretch
- Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds
Baseball and Softball
The key baseball muscles quads, hamstrings, forearms, chest, shoulders, and back. You can perform any of the already mentioned stretches. But here’s another you’ll be glad you did, especially if you plan on stealing any bases.
- Stand with your legs wide apart
- Shift your weight to the left
- Allow your left knee to bend until it is over your left foot
- You will feel the stretch in your right groin
- Keep your feet on the ground facing forward
- Hold for 20-30 seconds
- Repeat the stretch on the opposite side