Warm Up With Memphis Grizzlies' Active Stretching Routine

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To knock off the top dog in the league, you've got to come ready to play. That means not just preparing yourself mentally, but also priming your body to perform to its maximum capacity from start to finish.

For basketball players, a proper pre-game warm-up should increase core temperature and blood flow to the muscles and should include exercises that engage the hips, quads, hamstrings and calves.

These goals cannot be achieved through simple static stretches—i.e., holding a stretch for an extended period of time. Engaging the muscles must be done with active stretching—moving through a stretch to a full range of motion, holding the position for a brief count, then returning to start position—all performed in a controlled manner. "Flexibility isn't just increasing the range of motion; it's controlling a movement and being efficient with it," says Jason Biles, former strength coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Active stretching helps Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and the rest of the Grizzlies bring their A-game every time they step on the court.

To produce greater elasticity in the muscles, perform each active stretch for a specified rep count, usually six to 10. Biles says, "Active stretching is specific to movement on the court, where you may perform a movement quickly, get a quick stretch to it, and then return to your starting position."

Avoid a sluggish start to your game by going through an active stretching routine before your pre-game shootaround.

Here are four pre-game active stretches favored by the Grizzlies. Perform two sets of eight reps [both legs if applicable], holding each rep for two counts.

Transverse-Adduction Hamstring Stretch

  • Lying on back, bring right leg up and across body toward left shoulder
  • Partner applies pressure at end of stretch, holding for two seconds
  • Return to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform with left leg

Coaching Points: Keep hips flat and working leg as straight as possible // Keep non-working leg straight

Hip Flexor Extension

  • Lie face down on table
  • Bend right knee at 90-degree angle so bottom of foot faces ceiling
  • Squeeze glute to lift knee and thigh off table
  • Partner places left hand on back of pelvis and right hand above knee, applying pressure to lift leg
  • Return to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform with left leg

Coaching Point: Do not arch back

Hurdler's Rectus Stretch

  • Lie face down on table with left foot flat on ground and right leg extended behind you on table
  • Keeping thigh on table, curl right heel to butt
  • Partner holds lower leg while applying pressure to push heel to butt
  • Release leg to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform with left leg

Coaching Points: Keep upper body relaxed // Engage core muscles // Squeeze glute

Gastrocnemius-Soleus Stretch

  • Lie on back on table with feet hanging off table
  • Flex feet toward shin
  • Partner grabs bottom of right foot and applies pressure toward shin
  • Perform with left leg

Coaching Points: Keep knees straight // Rest foot on top of partner's forearm

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