Stretching is an integral part of any sport. Giving the muscles a good stretch reduces the risk of injuries. Stretch exercises also boost flexibility and improve the range of motion. Stretching also conditions the ligaments and joints! If you are playing any type of sport, consider adding any of these stretching exercises to your pre-game warm up:
The Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings are tendons located in the posterior thigh muscles. However, the hamstrings generally refer to the muscles and tendons in the back of the thighs. These muscles are prone to cramping and tearing so they have to be warmed up very well before working out.
To warm up the hamstrings, sit on the ground and split the legs apart or bend one leg and then keep the other leg extended towards you. Now, hold the ankle of your left leg with the right hand. Reach for your toes with your left hand until you feel the tension in the thighs. To intensify the stretch, try pulling the toes towards the body while flexing the quads. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds then alternate to the other leg.
Butterfly Groin Stretch
The Butterfly groin stretch will loosen the groin muscles, allowing for smooth movement as you sprint or walk. To perform the butterfly groin stretch, sit on the ground and hold your feet with your hands. Slowly bring the feet towards the groin area. Press the elbows down the thighs to keep them level. You should feel the tension on the inner thighs, the outer hip muscles, and lower back. To intensify the stretch, lower the upper body as you bring the feet in the groin area.
Lying Hip Stretch
The lying hip stretch targets the thigh and the glutes. To perform this stretch, lie on the ground on your back. Keep your legs extended and the back straight. Bend the right knee towards the chest by grabbing it with your left hand. Put your right hand on the side. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds before alternating to the other leg.
This warm up exercise will tone the calves, which are leg muscles that are prone to cramping too! There are different types of calf exercises but this is the traditional variation. Calf exercises are ideal before an intense workout or sports that involve lots of running and kicking.
Start by standing away from the wall. Put your right foot behind you with the toes facing forward. Lean forward at the ankle while bending the right knee. Keep your heel on the ground. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
The shoulder stretch alleviates muscle stiffness and soreness. Start by sitting up straight or standing up. Put your right hand over your shoulder, bringing the elbow back. At this point, the elbow should be pointing to the ceiling. With your left hand, pull your head forward and then to the left. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds then alternate to the other side.
Neck and Shoulder Stretch
This stretch move will engage the upper fibers of the trapezius muscles. Start by sitting on the edge of a chair. With your right hand, hold the edge of the chair. Turn your head to the right, pulling the head further with your left hand. You should feel the tension in the shoulder muscles as you pull your head. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds then alternate to the other side.