By: Amanda Tunison
Stretching is very crucial in not only cheerleading, but all sports. Stretching is important before any aerobic activity to most importantly prevent injuries. Stretching is also supposed to occur after physical activities as well in order to prevent soreness. No athlete likes waking up the next morning after a hard-working practice with their body full of aches and pains.
Stretching before and after all practices and aerobic activities is the key to less pain! If you stretch your body before exercising, you are going to help your body reach its full potential. You will be fully warmed up and your muscles will be working to help you. Being more flexible has been proven to prevent serious injuries; you want your muscles to move with your rapid movements, to be flexible and loose. STRETCH!
One big issue that comes with stretching is: it is boring. Athletes, and especially cheerleaders, love to socialize while stretching and do not take it as seriously. Stretching does not have to be serious, it can be fun with your team if you focus and do it correctly.
Try this: Grab a buddy of similar size that you are not usually buddies with on your team or in your class, etc. and ask them to help you stretch. Buddy stretching is a fun and efficient way to improve your flexibility and keep things light and fun with your friends. You can help each other slowly improve, over time, you will see the improvements together and that is extremely rewarding. You will not only be helping yourself, but your team and all of your skills.
Also, with or without buddies: Play some upbeat music and stretch to the music. This will make things more fun and exciting, it won’t seem like such a chore and you can focus on the songs not the pain you might be feeling from stretching. You can even play your routine music and listen to that, keep your mind busy and your body stretching!
Last but not least: MAKE SURE ALL OF YOUR STRETCHES ARE BEING HELD FOR AT LEAST 30 SECONDS EACH. If you are trying to get more flexible in any stretch, you must hold it for at least 30 seconds. Statistically, this has been shown to help improve flexibility, anything under 30 seconds is not going to help you get more flexible.
I hope you can all enjoy stretching a little more and don’t forget to breathe! Take it slow and spend time relaxing into all your stretches, you will be happy you did!