Improve Your Basketball Performance With These 4 Stretches
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Basketball is a fast-paced sport that involves just about every muscle group in your body. The sport requires a lot of athleticism, endurance and physical fitness. There is a lot of jumping and crashing the boards on offense and defense. Players need great hand-eye coordination and the ability to see all the players on the floor.
With all of that jumping and sprinting, injuries are common in the sport. Basketball players can help to prevent injuries by stretching their hamstrings, hip flexors, shoulders and ankles. These four stretches borrowed from yoga are great for basketball players of any age.
Why it’s good: Bridge pose strengthens the back and the muscles that surround the spine. It also helps to power the muscles that are essential for running in basketball.
How to do this: Lie on your back and bend your knees. Plant your feet on the floor, right below your hips. Lift your hips up to the ceiling as you tuck your chin. Interlace your hands behind your back and press down into the floor. Take five deep breaths and slowly release.
Extended Side Angle Pose
Why it’s good: Extended side angle pose opens up your hips, as well as the adductor and abductor muscles. It also stretches the upper and lower back, opens up the chest and lungs, and warms up the shoulders.
How to do this: Stand with your legs about four feet apart. Extend your arms into a T position, with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot out to 90 degrees, and turn your right foot slightly inward to about 45 degrees. Bend your left knee toward a 90-degree angle with your left thigh parallel to the floor. Lean toward your left knee, hinging at the hips to bring your left arm down toward the floor. You can also rest your left elbow on your thigh. Reach your right arm up over your right ear, to create a straight line from your right ankle to your right hand. Stay and breathe for about 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Why it’s good: Triangle pose builds strength in your lower legs and core. It also helps to lengthen your hamstrings and stretch your chest.
How to do this: From extended side angle, raise your torso up with your arms still outstretched. Then, straighten both legs, keeping your feet as they are. Hinge forward and reach your torso over your left leg as your hips jut back. Maintain a long, straight spine as you reach your bottom hand to the mat, placing it in front of your left foot. If you feel off balance, bring in your back leg closer to shorten your stance. Gaze towards your top arm, which should be extended overhead. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Why it’s good: Everyone can benefit from this hip opener. Basketball can create stress and tension in the hips and create tightness. Practicing half-pigeon can make for more flexible hips.
How to do this: Start on all fours and bring your right knee to your right wrist. Your right ankle should fall in front of your left hip. Slide your left leg back behind you, with the top of your left foot facing down, and your left heel facing up. Square your hips to the floor so they feel even. Lower your upper body so your torso is over your right knee. Reach your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Hold for several breaths.
So next time you go to hoop it up on the court with your young athlete, throw in a couple of these stretches as either a warm-up or a cool down. It’s amazing what just a few minutes of stretching can do to help keep basketball players’ bodies strong and nimble for such a high intensity sport.
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Sarah Kostin is a freelance copywriter, published author, life coach, and yoga teacher. An exercise and outdoor fanatic herself, Sarah has a passion for writing about health, wellness, fitness, yoga, and living your best life.