Basketball is a tough sport with a lot of intensity. Players get hurt quite often, and even the most prepared athletes have to sit out every now and then. That’s why stretching is such an important aspect of every routine and why it’s integrated into the game as a whole.
There are many stretches out there, but a few are perfect for basketball. The following guide will cover the most important ones by explaining how to do them, as well as what critical function they serve.
The Importance of Being Loose
Before getting into the individual stretches, it’s first key to understand why so many athletes stretch in the first place. Extra movement gets blood flowing throughout the body, helps improve flexibility, relaxes tense muscles, and increases the general range of motion.
In that way, stretching limbers everything up. That extra mobility is extremely important in cutting down on injuries because the looser everything is, the less likely it is for the muscles or joints to snap, sprain, or strain during a game or practice.
For example, a player colliding with an opponent while running full speed might hurt their quad or calf during the impact. However, if they stretched before the game their muscles will be more malleable and might be able to move with the impact rather than against it. That’s much safer.
The Leg Stretches
In reality, just about any stretch (both lower and upper body) is better than not stretching at all. Getting your body moving and blood flowing is extremely important when it comes to increasing performance and making sure you’re ready for a tough physical activity.
That being said, there are a few stretches that are much better for the hardwood than similar options. That’s mainly due to the fact that they help get especially vulnerable parts of the body game ready and do a good job of enhancing the right areas.
The first example of one such exercise is the quad stretch. To do this, lift one leg up while standing and then grab the lifted heel with your foot. Pull until you feel a comfortable stretch through the front of your leg. Hold that position for a few seconds before going to the other side.
That move is particularly useful because it increases quad mobility and also works on general balance. Both of those are important aspects for basketball.
Straight leg skips are another good way to get your legs loose. To do these hamstring exercises, stand up and kick your leg out in a skipping motion. Fully extend your leg, put it down, and take a step forward before going to the other one. Keep repeating until you get as high as you can.
This motion helps warm up the entire lower body while also rapidly increasing elasticity throughout the torso, hamstring, and legs.
Finally, there’s the 90-90 stretch. This is an incredibly important way to limber up the glutes and lateral hip areas. Sit down on the right side of your hip so that your right leg is in front and your left leg sticks out behind you.
From there, bend both legs so that each one is at a 90-degree angle and lean towards your front leg. Bring your chest down to your right knee as far as you can without experiencing too much pain or discomfort. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Calves and Arms
Calves go through a lot during a game as well. To get them ready, a toes-on-wall stretch is essential. This move involves standing in front of a wall (or bench) and placing your foot so that your heel is on the floor and your heels are raised up and pressed into the wall.
Put your weight onto the lower part of your leg so that you feel a good stretch running up the back of your calf and hamstring. Hold for roughly thirty seconds, then go to the other leg.
One last stretch that you can perform is the arm swing. This one’s a bit different from the others because it focuses on the upper body, but it’s quick and easy to do. From a standing motion, simply move your arms out to the side and move them in big, slow circles.
That may seem extremely basic, but it’s one of the best ways to get some mobility into your shoulders and chest. You can also bring them in and out to get even more motion.
There’s nothing quite like a good stretch. The positive benefits of loosening up before a game has long been proven by multiple studies over the years, especially when it comes to high impact or extremely tough sports like basketball.
All stretching is good, but the above options are particularly useful for basketball. Pick your favorites and use the ones that feel the best. As long as you’re moving, you’re doing a good job.