B.A.S.E. Sports – Injury Prevention
The following static stretches should be done several times per week, either after practices, or competitions, or whenever you have some spare time to devote to improving flexibility. After warming up for a few minutes to increase muscle temperature and blood flow, hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds at a time.
Feel free to perform each stretch more than once, and always do additional repetitions for any side that is tighter than the other. For instance, if your left hamstring is less flexible than your right, start with you left leg and after holding the stretch for at east 20-30 seconds, switch over to your right. Then go back to your left and continue until you’ve done at least two stretches per leg- making sure to have done at least one more rep with your left side.
Lower Body Stretches
Wall Hamstring stretch: (Hamstrings) Lie on the floor inside a door frame and place the leg closest to the wall up on the wall, trying to get it as close to perpendicular to the floor as possible. Place your other leg through the door frame, making sure to keep it held straight with your toes pointed towards the ceiling. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then inch yourself a little closer to the wall and repeat.
Butterfly Stretch: (Adductors) Sit on the floor, or against a wall, with your back straight and soles of your feet together. Press your knees towards the floor.
Hip Flexor Stretch: (Psoas) Get into a high kneeling position with your left leg forward and your right leg bent 90 degrees, directly beneath your shoulder. Begin by contracting your right glute and abdominals to bring your pelvis into a posterior tilt. If you do this correctly you should already feel a stretch in the front part of your right hip. While holding this position, and keeping your torso as upright as possible, raise your right arm up over your head until it’s completely straight. Then, keep your torso long and abs and glutes contracted as you lean over to your left. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Kneeling Quadriceps Stretch: (Quadriceps)
Get into a high kneeling position with your left leg positioned forward at a 90 degree angle, and your right leg on the ground with your knee directly beneath your shoulder. Begin by brining your right heel up towards your butt until you reach the point where you can grab the front of your ankle with your right hand. Once you have it, keep your torso as upright as possible and gently pull your heel towards your butt. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Figure 4 stretch: (Glutes) Lie on the floor with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Begin by crossing your right leg over your left by placing your right ankle just above your left knee. Next, grab your left hamstring and pull your leg back until you feel a stretch in your left glute. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Pike Calf Stretch: (Calves) Get into position as if about to do a push-up, then walk your feet in towards your hands while keeping your knees as straight as possible. Once there, take one foot off the ground and rest it on your other calf. Next, slowly push the heel of your foot that’s still on the ground towards the floor. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat with the other side.
Upper Body Stretches
Corner Pec Stretch: (Pectorals) Walk over to any corner of a room and place a forearm on each wall, with your elbows bent 90 degrees and your upper arms even with, or slightly below your shoulders. Keep your core braced tight as you lean your body into the stretch. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat.
Broomstick Stretch:(Internal Rotators) Hold a broomstick in your right hand as shown. With your left hand, gently pull the bottom of the broomstick forward, making sure to keep your torso as upright as possible (no leaning backwards as you pull). Hold 20- 30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Lat Stretch: (Latisimus Dorsi)
Stand with a sturdy object like a squat rack, or weight tree positioned in front of you. Reach out and grab the object with your arms about chest height, and sit your weight back until they’re completely straight. Tuck your head between your arms and bend your knees slightly as you let your torso lengthen and relax into the stretch. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat.
Seated Trap Stretch: (Trapezius) Sit on a chair or bench with your torso held as upright as possible. Begin by grabbing the bottom of the seat with your right hand as you use your left hand to gently pull your left ear towards your left shoulder. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat to the other side.
Chin Tuck: (Cervical Extensors) Stand with the back of your head and entire back in contact with a wall. In figure one, your neck is in extension with your chin elevated slightly above parallel. Next, in figure two, retract your jaw, trying to make a “double chin”. This will cause you to push the back of your head gently into the wall. This can be a tough one to hold for long periods, so start with 5-10 second holds and work your way up.
Thoracic Spine Stretch: Begin by placing a rolled up towel on the floor perpendicular to your torso. Next, lay down on top of the towel so that it’s positioned at the base of your shoulder blades and relax back so that your head and upper back touch the floor. Keep your core braced tight to avoid hyperextending your lower back (let the stretch come from your thoracic spine) as you breathe into the stretch.
Believe it or not, not all static stretches are considered beneficial. Here’s a link to an article that features some popular stretches swimmers use which are now considered contraindicated by USA Swimming. Besides offering some more effective alternatives, it also contains a terrific dynamic shoulder warm-up you can use before both practices, and meets.