Stretching is an immensely important part of any athlete’s routine. It conditions and nourishes the muscles that you use repeatedly. Stretching can be an effective method to combat your risk of future injuries out on the field as it increases muscle and joint mobility. There are countless benefits to daily stretching such as increased balance, flexibility, strength, and overall improved athletic performance. Sports medicine therapists typically recommend stretching for about 10 minutes a day for people looking to actively improve their flexibility.
Here are the top stretches recommended by sports medicine therapists for you to start incorporating into your daily routine.
1. Runner’s Lunge
Lunging is one of the most popular and beneficial stretches for athletes, especially runners. It stretches a hefty plethora of muscle groups in your legs. These include, but are not limited to, hamstrings and glute muscles, both of which can tighten after sitting for too long in environments such as office settings. It’s important to stretch these out after periods of stillness to preserve mobility in your legs.
2. Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is a great stretch for anymore looking for more leg mobility as well. It specifically stretches out the glutes and upper leg muscles that might compress and tense up during a long day of sitting.
3. Seated Hamstring Stretch
The standing hamstring stretch is one of the most popular. It’s commonly used as an overall indicator for general flexibility to the point where it’s commonly performed in schools and doctor’s offices to display capabilities. Not only is this stretch excellent for hamstrings as its name would indicate, but it also does a lovely job at taking pressure off of your lower back. Can’t touch your toes yet? Start with sitting down with your legs straight, then reach for your calves and work your way down over the course of a few days or weeks.
4. Downward Dog
Downward Dog is a popular yoga pose that made its way into the stretching world quickly because it’s so beneficial for relieving tension while stretching several muscle groups. It not only stretches all along the backs of your legs, it also takes a lot of tension out of your lower back and your shoulders.
5. Cobra Stretch
This is another one that’s been adopted from yoga. The cobra stretch best known for its ability to curate better spine flexibility. Stretches like this are great for lengthening the spine, which in return relaxes it, eliminating certain types of back pain.
6. Chest Opener Stretch
For more arm-based exercise, you want flexible arms, an opened chest, and limber shoulders. This stretch is ideal for anyone lifting weights or hauling anything that puts strain on your shoulders, chest, or arms. It’s also great for people who sit at desks all day, because working at a computer can stiffen this same area.
7. Across Body Arm Stretch
This stretch is also good for shoulders and arms, but it has the additional benefit of stretching the muscles along the backs of your arms. It’s great for anyone requiring excellent arm mobility, such as football and baseball players who have to throw a ball long distances on a daily basis.
8. Iron Cross Stretch
Photo Credit: 12 Minute Athlete
This one is amazing for doing a full-middle body stretch. It lengthens the spine and stretches the sides of your hips. This is especially good for dancers and runners who might experience hip stiffness or anybody struggling with lower back pain, as the twisting motion of this stretch can relieve lower back pressure.
9. Butterfly Stretch
The butterfly stretch is phenomenal for stretching out the groin. The groin is one of the most commonly pulled muscles in sports, so it’s important to stretch it out and keep it relaxed and pliable. Try pushing your knees closer to the floor with your elbows for an even better stretching experience!
10. Frog Stretch
Photo Credit: self.com
The frog stretch is also one that is amazing for the groin, but this one has the added benefit of stretching the muscles along the front of your thighs. It’s commonly used by dancers who want unrestricted groin mobility, but its also very useful for climbers and other athletes that need such a wide range of motion in their hips, as it helps with hip flexibility as well.
The Importance of Daily Stretching
One stretching session won’t grant you the incredible mobility and flexibility that you crave. Daily habits are what actually creates progress in this field, so be sure to keep up the consistency and try to improve your abilities a little bit every day. Try starting out with stretching before every work out, and eventually you can graduate to daily stretching (if you’re not working out every day).
Stretching is an important part of an athlete’s routine, but it can’t replace a medical professional, such as an athletic trainer or sports medicine therapist, when it comes to dealing with conditions and injuries. Check out other health tips and stay up to date on the latest industry news with our blog.