Don't forget to stretch

By Sports Medicine & Performance Center staff
Posted: November 9, 2015 - 3:25 PM



Are you using the best kind of stretching exercises to meet the needs of your body and your sport? Dynamic stretching is effective for sports that require power, acceleration and movement, such as baseball and softball.

Start with a warm-up
Warming up your muscles generates more energy and force, and improves your ability to react. It also helps prevent injuries. Warm up with an aerobic activity that makes you sweat, such as walking, jogging, riding an exercise bike or using an elliptical machine.

Dynamic stretching exercises
The best program works every part of your body. Try these exercises to stretch from head to toe.

Leg swings
Start by standing on one leg, and swing the other leg forward and back. Use small swings that progress into larger swings as tolerated. Then switch to side-to-side leg swings.  This stretches the calf, quadriceps, hamstrings and groin muscle.  It also prepares your ankles and feet for the coming activities.

Walking lunges
These help you continue using your leg muscles while stretching your hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps. Take a long stride and perform left/right walking. Allow your back leg to bend only slightly, and keep your front knee behind your toes. Do lunges sideways as well for an abductor, hip and groin stretch.

Arm swings
Swing your arms in front of you (first right, then left), progressing higher as tolerated. Then swing your arms out to your sides and across your body. This activates and stretches muscles of the shoulder, back and chest.

Trunk rotations and side bends
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent for each of these. For trunk rotations, twist your torso to the left, then to the right, and relax your hips and knees. For side bends, keep both knees relaxed and bend your trunk to the right and the left. These exercises loosen muscles of the spine.

Tips for successful stretching
There is no set number or amount of time for stretches. Perform the amount of stretching exercises you feel is necessary for your continued improvement.

Perform your dynamic stretches with control to prevent injury.

Don’t push yourself too far, and make sure you perform each exercise with an appropriate level of comfort.

For more sports medicine articles and information on the Sports Medicine & Performance Center at the University of Kansas Hospital, go to sportsmedicine.kumed.com or follow @KUSportsMed1 on twitter.

 


 

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