Stretch Like the White Sox

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It doesn't matter whether the season is just underway or your team is on a stretch run. The most valuable program for steering clear of the DL is a solid post-game recovery routine.

Shortstops, grab your double-play mate. Outfielders, reel in your long-toss buddy. You'll need a partner for these ChiSox-tested stretches, offered up by director of conditioning Allen Thomas.

Follow along to learn the correct form for each exercise. But first, a few key program points: • Post-activity, you want to cool down the muscles, not completely shut down the body, which is why a recovery routine is so important. • Thomas prescribes Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching for the lower half of the body after a game. • The Stretch, Hold and Relax method is a key property of PNF stretching. Thomas explains, "When you stretch a guy to his limits and [he] activates the muscle potential by pushing against your hand, the muscles open up, allowing for blood flow to pass through the leg and through the muscle that is being worked. When you relax the muscle, it opens up, not allowing for tightness in the muscle." • For lower body PNF stretches, complete the series for one leg, then move on to the opposite leg.

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It doesn't matter whether the season is just underway or your team is on a stretch run. The most valuable program for steering clear of the DL is a solid post-game recovery routine.

Shortstops, grab your double-play mate. Outfielders, reel in your long-toss buddy. You'll need a partner for these ChiSox-tested stretches, offered up by director of conditioning Allen Thomas.

Follow along to learn the correct form for each exercise. But first, a few key program points:
• Post-activity, you want to cool down the muscles, not completely shut down the body, which is why a recovery routine is so important.
• Thomas prescribes Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching for the lower half of the body after a game.
• The Stretch, Hold and Relax method is a key property of PNF stretching. Thomas explains, "When you stretch a guy to his limits and [he] activates the muscle potential by pushing against your hand, the muscles open up, allowing for blood flow to pass through the leg and through the muscle that is being worked. When you relax the muscle, it opens up, not allowing for tightness in the muscle."
• For lower body PNF stretches, complete the series for one leg, then move on to the opposite leg.

Straight-Leg Hamstring Stretch
• Lie on back and position foot over partner's shoulder so that leg is straight
• Partner slowly pushes leg up to point of tension; hold 8-12 seconds
• Push against partner's hand for 4-6 seconds

Sets/Reps: 4 stretches and 4 presses each leg
Coaching Points: Partner uses hands to keep foot dorsiflexed (toes toward shin) // Stretch to maximum range of motion // Non-working leg should be straight

Knee and Hip Flexion
• Lie on back and place foot on partner's chest with knee bent
• Partner pushes on foot to drive knee to chest until point of tension; hold 8-12 seconds
• Push foot against partner's chest for 4-6 seconds

Sets/Reps: 4 stretches and 4 presses each leg
Coaching Points: Stretch to maximum range of motion // Push lightly against partner's chest // Non-working leg should be straight

Bent-Knee Open-Hip Stretch
• Lie on back and place foot near partner's waist
• Bring knee up toward side of chest; hold for 8-12 seconds
• Push foot against partner for 4-6 seconds

Sets/Reps: 4 stretches and 4 presses each leg
Coaching Points: Non-working leg should be straight

Sideline Straight-Leg Hamstring Stretch
• Lie on back; partner is positioned between legs with hands on inside part of foot of working leg
• Stretch leg up and to the side for full range of motion; hold 8-12 seconds
• Push foot into partner's hand and hold 4-6 seconds

Sets/Reps: 4 stretches and 4 presses each leg
Coaching Points: Inside of leg is open toward ceiling // Partner is positioned between legs with hands placed on inside of foot

Quadratus Lumborum-Lower Back Stretch
• Lie on back and bring knee to chest
• Partner applies force and takes knee across body for 8-12 seconds
• Return knee to position at chest and push against partner for 4-6 seconds

Sets/Reps: 4 stretches and 4 presses each leg
Coaching Points: Partner assists knee to chest movement // Perform in a controlled manner // Keep non-working leg straight

Diagonal Chops
• Assume athletic position with arms extended straight across body over left shoulder
• Drive arms diagonally down and across body
• Finish with hands just below right knee
• Repeat opposite direction; arms extended over right shoulder toward left knee

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each direction
Coaching Points: Keep arms straight // Chop hands through hips // Perform in a controlled manner

Double-Arm Swings
• Perform 10 full circles forward
• Repeat for 10 circles in opposite direction

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each direction
Coaching Point: Swing arms in a controlled manner

Pec Stretch
• Extend arms out to sides at shoulder level with palms facing forward
• Drive arms back to maximum range of motion
• Swing arms forward and cross them in front of chest
• Repeat in continuous fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10
Coaching Points: Movement is straight out in a neutral position at chest level

Arm Across Chest
• Extend right arm across body at chest level
• Bring left hand underneath right arm and apply resistance near deltoid; hold 3-4 seconds
• Release arm and swing it across body
• Repeat with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each arm
Coaching Point: Stretch to maximum range of motion

Overhead Tricep Stretch
• Bring left arm behind head with elbow pointed up
• Use right hand to pull left elbow back and down to point of tension
• Hold 8-12 seconds, then release

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each arm
Coaching Point: Allow arm to fall down to side of body at release

Scarecrow
• Start with elbows bent at 90-degree angles to the side of body
• Rotate arms in opposite direction: left arm up, right arm down; left arm down, right arm up

Sets/Reps: 1x10 each arm
Coaching Point: Keep core tight


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BASEBALL | STRETCHING | CHEST | SWING | RANGE OF MOTION