Stretching is important for athletes

by Joe Lawrence | November 11th, 2009 | Eating Tips, Exercises, Sports, Strength Training

stretch‘Is there really any value in stretching?’  I remember thinking this question in my  head while doing the flexibility drills in Tae Kwon Do.  After twenty-some years of fitness, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

When I first began training in martial arts I was not very limber.  Being almost six feet in junior high and being in a light weight fighting class gave me a huge advantage.  My reach and speed in a smaller division gave me a way to control the fast, little guys.  When I was able to keep them on the outside, things worked to plan.  However, when they got inside of my reach, I needed to be flexible.

Flexibility allowed me to get my foot to their head in innovative ways.  This was just one major advantage of being flexible.  Being limber gave me more weapons in the ring.  Flexibility will provide any athlete with an advantage over the competitor without.

Greater muscle motion also will help to prevent injury.  When you go through the normal ranges and motions of your game, the chances of pulling a muscle are pretty rare.  However, when you are a true competitor, you are likely to push yourself and body past the normal ranges.  When you do, you stand the risk of muscle pulls and tears.

To combat this, here is a simple stretch routine.  Do simple warm-ups by going through the normal motions of your sport at half speed.  A half -jog, a light swing of the bat, a few soft kicks to a target, etc.  Working up a good sweat will ensure that your muscles are warm and ready to stretch.

Then go through your normal stretching routine.  Once you finish that, it is time to take it up a notch.  This time get into position for the normal stretch and have someone push you just past the point you would normally stop.  Do not go too much further, just a little more.  This will get your muscles used to a new challenge.  Do this for each stretch once a week and you will see results.

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