Staying fit is essential in every sport, and a considerable part of overall fitness is stretching. Stretching increases your range of motion and blood flow to the body, but it also decreases the likelihood of injury. Stretching can also help with muscle soreness after a workout and a hard practice. Depending on the sport and the athlete, different areas of the body may need stretching more than others.
Many stretching techniques can be incorporated into an athlete's training regimen without a gym or any special equipment. These techniques are especially useful during these current times of social distancing and personal safety. These stretches are static and are best done after activity or a short warm-up. Each stretch is specific to a muscle group, but if all are performed, they provide the opportunity for full-body flexibility to fit any sport.
Make sure to breathe slow and deep while stretching and concentrate on relaxing into the stretch. Relaxing your muscles will deepen the stretch and make the stretch more comfortable. Each stretch should be held for approximately 30 seconds and performed multiple times if desired.
How to use a wall.
Place your heels, back, shoulders, and head against the wall. Slowly start to raise your arms above your head with your palms facing outward, keeping as much contact with the wall as possible. This exercise will open your chest and stretch your shoulders and arms.
Stretch your calf muscles by placing one foot on the wall and your heel on the ground. Then lean into the wall until you feel the stretch in your calf. You can stretch different areas of your calf by either keeping your knee straight or bending it slightly.
You can stretch your hamstrings and groin by laying with your back flat on the ground and your legs straight up against the wall (in an "L" shape). If this position creates a prominent stretch in the hamstrings, then continue to hold the position. However, if you would like to target the groin and create a deeper hamstring stretch, begin separating the legs as far as is tolerable.
How to use a doorway.
Place your hands on either side of the doorway and lean forward. Depending on your hands' position, it will target different areas of the upper body; straightening or bending your arms will change the stretch as well. Placing your hands around the waist region will target your chest, the shoulder region will target your shoulders, and above the head will target a combination of the two.
For female athletes that need a lot of flexibility, a doorway is a fantastic way to practice stretching. Stand in the doorway and place one foot directly underneath you on the ground. Bend down and lift your other leg into a spit position against one side of the door frame. If you want to practice back flexibility, you can also use your arms to walk yourself up the door- while holding the spit position- so you are standing up.
How to use the stairs.
Place one-foot several stairs above the other and lunge your weight into the top foot. Push your body weight forward through your hips. This will open up your hips and provide an excellent stretch for your hip flexor.
Another way to stretch your calf muscle is to stand on the edge of a step and let your heels drop below the step.
You can use the stairs to do over-splits. Place one foot on the first step and slide into the splits making the front leg elevated above the hips. This is a way to extend the range of motion beyond what is standard on the ground. This is an advanced stretch, and you should be able to do your splits flat on the ground before attempting the over-splits.