There are several ways an athlete can benefit from stretching. A consistent stretching program can improve performance, increase range of motion, and decrease muscle tension and soreness. Because it increases flexibility, stretching improves the function of the muscle by allowing it to perform better.
Performance and range of motion go hand in hand. The muscle that has an increased range of motion has the capability to do more for the athlete. For example, when performing a squat the athlete with poor flexibility in his or her hips cannot perform the exercise through its full range of motion. This athlete does not get the full benefit of the exercise. A basketball player with poor flexibility in the calves and Achilles tendons will not have the ability to jump to his or her potential. The poor range of motion in muscles limits strength development and associated athletic performance.
When an athlete experiences muscle soreness from tension or a hard workout, stretching can help to relieve it. Stretching increases blood flow to the sore muscles, which helps remove waste products produced by tissue damage and bring in the products necessary for muscle repair and strength gain.
Light activity before stretching will increase effectiveness of flexibility exercises. By warming up the muscles first, the athlete can make them more pliable and easily stretched.
1. Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light activity.
2. Stretch each body part.
a. Build a routine. Begin at the neck and work your way down
3. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
4. Do not bounce. Stretch until there is a light tension on the muscle and hold.
Here are five partner stretches to use with your workout partner or training buddy to maximize your range of motion and reach your top performance.