Stretching is crucial for athletes: Here are five stretches you can do

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Stretching is crucial for athletes: Here are five stretches you can do

A young woman stretches before exercising.

A young woman stretches before exercising.

IMAGE / Public domain

A young woman stretches before exercising.

IMAGE / Public domain

IMAGE / Public domain

A young woman stretches before exercising.

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Student-athletes often stretch before practices, games, and other events.

Stretches are crucial to athletes performing at their peak. Stretching can help people prevent injury, perform better, and feel better as they compete.

These stretches and tips can help athletes improve in almost every sport.

Stretching Tips

  • Always stretch before a game to reduce the chances of a muscle pull, or worse, a tear.
  • Never stretch to painful extents, stretch to mild tension in the muscles you are stretching.
  • Hold stretches for at least 20 seconds to feel a full stretch before an event.
  • Stretch for 30 seconds, at minimum, after an event to loosen your muscles and prevent soreness.
  • Ease into the stretches. Don’t try to rush through them.

Types of stretches

The Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps stretch, also known as the “Flamingo” stretch, stretches — you guessed it — the quadriceps.

To perform the stretch, grab your ankle and pull it toward the middle of your back while standing on one leg.

You will feel this stretch in the front of your leg if you are doing it right.

This stretch is especially helpful to runners and lifters, as the quadriceps are key to their sports.

The Calf Stretch

The calf stretch stretches the muscles in your calf.

To perform this stretch, stand near a wall with your feet spread like you are walking.

Bend your forward leg while keeping your back foot flat on the floor.

Stand up straight and keep your hips pointing at the wall.

Hold it for at least 30 seconds and be sure to stretch both legs.

This stretch is crucial to all athletes, as a pull in your calf can end your season early.

The Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring stretch stretches the hamstring, the large tendon behind your knee.

To stretch it, lie on your back near a wall and lift one leg up.

Place your other leg on the baseboard of the wall.

Straighten the raised leg until you feel it stretch.

You may have to move closer to the wall after doing this stretch for a few months, as your hamstring may not stretch at the same position.

Hold this stretch for 45 seconds on each leg. You can almost eliminate the chances of a hamstring pull, which can ruin an athlete’s entire year.

The Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch can stretch your groin and quadriceps muscles.

To perform this, sit down, putting both feet together.

Pull your feet toward your body and lean forward slightly.

You should hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then pull your legs closer and repeat it for another 30 seconds.

You will feel the stretch from your quads to your hips.

The Newspaper Stretch

The newspaper stretch loosens your glutes and lower back muscles.

To perform it, sit down with your knees arched.

Rest one leg across the other and lift your rear off the ground with your arms.

Repeat the stretch on both legs for 30 seconds to get the most out of the stretch.