One of the most important areas of athletic activity may often be the most overlooked: Stretching. By engaging in daily stretches, it decreases potential risk of injury and enables flexibility while improving your overall athletic performance. PT Northwest offers these key athletic stretches to prevent athletic injury and get the most out of your workouts.
1.) Walking Lunges
If you are readying for a big run, utilizing a dynamic stretch as opposed to a static or stationary stretch can better prepare your body for maximum performance. Dynamic stretching means your body is still in constant movement which warms up your muscles more effectively than static stretches. Start with walking lunges to open up your quads and hip flexors. Stand with your feet together and take a long step forward with your right foot. Bend the front knee 90 degrees and back knee until it almost touches the floor. Hold your pose for a few seconds before working to straighten your back leg. You will feel a nice, gentle stretch through the front of your left thigh. Next, rise up and take a big step forward with your left knee to stretch your left side. By stimulating the movement of running, you are preparing your body for what’s ahead.
2.) Leg Swings
To gain flexibility in your hamstrings and hip flexors prior to a run, a leg swing stretch is an effective tool. Use your left hand for support and hold onto a stable object, such as a tree or pillar, to prevent falling. Face forward and stare ahead. First, swing your left leg forward, keeping it as straight as possible. As you bring it back down, use momentum to swing it behind your body. Use a nice and controlled motion to do this. Continue swinging for 10 reps. After you have completed this, switch sides by facing the opposite direction and use your opposite hand to provide your support. For additional benefits, you can also utilize this stretch to further open up your hips by facing forward and swinging your leg in the same controlled motion across your body. Do this to both sides of your body to achieve full results.
3.) Donkey Kicks
Also referred to as a bent-leg kickback or a quadruped hip extension, this stretch is a great way to help strengthen your glutes as well as your hamstrings and lower back. First, descend to a hands and knees position with your back flat. Bring your left leg back. When doing this, you should feel a gentle stretch through your hamstrings and glutes. Keep your left leg bent and your left ankle flexed as you bring it upwards. Try to get your left hamstring and back in a straight line and preform 10 reps before switching to your right side. If it is painful to be on your wrists and knees, you can use a stability ball opposed to laying on the floor. This will help take the pressure off of your wrists and knees as well as your shoulders.
At PT Northwest, keeping athletes healthy is a top priority. For additional assistance, PT Northwest offers certified trainers for local athletes so that you can have the tools you need to achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits we can provide.