Stretches for the Avid One-Sporters
September 21, 2017
Have you ever found yourself falling in love or becoming too comfortable in just one sport? If so, you aren’t alone. Although it is very common, when we focus on one sport we tend to lose track of which strength moves and stretches are best for the activity we are performing every single day. There becomes an imbalance in the body when training for solely one sport which can lead to injury. Here are some cross-training tips to keep you avid one-sporters prepared:
- First and foremost, before stretching it is always a good idea to go on a quick jog or do some type of exercise to get your blood flowing throughout your body. A couple laps around the court, stopping to do some sit-ups in one corner, then continuing on and repeating the process is a great way to get the heart pumping.
- Although many sports do not demand the range of motion or extreme flexibility more than others, the repetitive movements of practicing the same activity day in and day out can produce tightness in the muscles used and can lead to postural imbalances and pain.
- Walking Lunge Stretch – This stretch helps lower body strength, flexibility of the hips and endurance.
- Step forward with your right leg, bending your knee, and lean forward slightly at your hips. Alternate legs.
- Walking Quadriceps Stretch – This targets and isolates your quads to get a nice stretch, while working on the balance of the other leg.
- Take a step forward with your left foot, bringing your right foot up towards your buttocks. Reach back and grab hold of your food then release and return to the ground. Alternate.
- Gluteus Maximus/Medius/Minimus Stretch – All about the hip joints!
- Sit down on a towel bringing one knee forward towards the edge, stretching the other leg behind you. Your foot of the bent leg should align with your knee. Lean forward for an extra stretch.
- Lower Back Arch – Also known as the “cobra pose,” this lengthens the abs and hip flexors as well as strengthens the lower back muscles.
- Lie on the ground as though you are about to do a push-up with your hands next to each shoulder. While looking into the sky/ceiling, lift your upper body up by pushing with your arms. From the waist down, your body should be touching the ground. You should feel your lower back stretching.
- Quad Stretch – Jumping from a crouched position in volleyball puts stress on your knees and can cause injury such as “jumper’s knee.”
- While standing (or laying) bringing your right foot straight back and grab it with your right hand. Pull up to stretch the muscle. Repeat with both legs.
- Overhead Triceps Stretch – Triceps are key when throwing the ball so we want this muscle group loose and flexible.
- Point your right elbow straight up into the air with your right hand going behind your head. With your left hand, reach across and grab your right elbow and pull it to the left, behind your head. When you feel the triceps being stretched hold the position. Repeat with both arms.
- Chest and Shoulder Stretch – This opens up the chest and front of shoulders which helps avoid poor posture and internal shoulder rotation.
- Stand at arm’s length from a wall or in a door frame (or a vertical pole), right side toward the wall. Extend right arm at shoulder level & place your hand on the wall.Maintaining good posture, rotate your body away from your arm until you feel a stretch. Take a few deep, slow breaths, relaxing deeper into the stretch as you exhale. Hold 15-20 seconds, then repeat on the other side, 3-4 reps/side.
- Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch – Tight hip flexors and quads can tug on the lumbar spine and cause low back pain.
- Stand on your left leg, and flex the right knee so the lower leg and foot are behind the body.Keep the thigh aligned vertically, and holding the right foot or front of the calf just above the ankle, exhale and pull the thigh backward until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip and thigh. Tip: Keep the torso upright and don’t let the pelvis tip forward. For some bonus core stability, raise your left arm overhead and balance as you perform the stretch. Hold 15-20 seconds and repeat other side, 3-5 reps/side.
- Lumbar Spine & Hip Rotation – This stretch targets muscles in the hips and low back, as well as the torso, chest and shoulders.
- Lying on your back on a mat, arms extended straight out from the shoulders in a “T” shape; lift the left leg off the mat, knee bent at 90 degrees with the knee over the left hip. Exhale and lower the left knee across the right leg. Use your right hand to press the right knee down for a deeper stretch. Keep the left shoulder pressed into the mat to stretch the chest, front of the left shoulder and the oblique’s. Take a few deep breaths, relaxing deeper into the stretch as you exhale. Hold 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other side, 3-5 reps/side.
- Supine Piriformis Stretch – Piriformis pain is often mistaken for hamstring issues. This stretch releases the piriformis and deep muscles of the hip.
- Lie on a mat on your back with feet on the floor, knees bent.Keep your right foot on the floor and place your left ankle on your right knee, allowing the left knee to externally rotate as far to the left side as possible. Lift your right foot off the mat, and hug your right knee into your chest, feeling the stretch in the left hip. Take a few deep breaths, relaxing deeper into the stretch as you exhale. Hold 15-20 seconds and repeat other side, 3-5 reps/side.
- Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle. Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side.
*Note: Stretches can be done for 10 seconds each and repeated as necessary until the muscle is loose. Stretch both arms, both legs/thighs. For strength exercises use appropriate weight and number of reps according to your ability.