Muscle cramping often affects thousands of athletes all over the world which often compromises athletic performance during main events or during training. Although muscle cramping is caused by several factors such as lack of essential electrolytes in the system, overtraining and lack of rest periods, it can also be caused by tight muscles brought about by weight lifting or long-term inactivity. To loosen these muscles, stretching exercises are the key.
There are different forms of stretches that you can perform to keep your muscles loose and to maintain a full range of motion for every movement. The basic rule when performing stretching activities is to stretch the body parts that you would likely use or train for that particular session. However, performing stretching exercises for the whole body will prevent muscle imbalances and promotes overall blood circulation to the muscles. Below are the best stretches appropriate for every sporting event.
It is important to start with shoulder stretches in order to avoid rotator cuff injuries and/or shoulder impingements.
- The shoulder stretch with a towel. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then grasp a towel with both hands vertically behind you.
- Gently pull the towel towards the ceiling with your top hand and you’ll feel a stretch in your shoulder blades as you perform the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the other hand.
The neck stretch. Stretching the neck prevents cervical injuries and also helps in loosening the trapezius muscles and other muscles of the neck.
- Start by bending your head forward and slightly to the right. With the aid of your right hand, gently pull your head downward.
- You will feel a slight stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The quadriceps stretch stretches the muscles that run along the upper legs or the thighs. It is essential to stretch these muscles before and after your leg exercises.
Tight hamstrings are the most common problem among people and athletes. Here is an effective stretch for your hamstrings.
- Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out.
- Extend the arms and reach towards your toes by bending on your waist by keeping your legs as straight as possible. Hold the position for 45 seconds and repeat on the other side. This stretch also delivers a stretch to tight hips.