Physical Therapy in Northern Virginia for Cheerleading
Stretching is an essential part of cheerleading. A good stretching routine can help to minimize muscle imbalances, prevent injury, improve your calisthenic ability and your overall cheerleading performance. The following stretching program is designed for cheerleaders who do not have any current injuries or individual stretching needs. If you have an injury, or a specific mechanical imbalance that may be holding back your cheerleading ability, your Dynamics Physical Therapy Physical Therapist can design a stretching program just for you.
When is the Best Time to Stretch?
When your muscles are warm and relaxed! For optimum performance you should stretch after you have done a general body warm up of about 5-10 minutes (this can include a combination of light running, cycling, skipping, jumping, or hopping.) You should also stretch after cheerleading. You may need to continue stretching throughout the time you are cheerleading especially if there are breaks where your muscles start to cool down (i.e. between cheers or during long plays where you are not cheering.)
Cheerleaders will need to do both dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretches form part of your pre-game cheerleading warm-up or training warm-up. They are used to prepare your muscles for the rapid contractions experienced during cheerleading. Static stretches, on the other hand, are more useful to improve your overall flexibility and are most effectively done at the end of your cool down.
Rules for Dynamic Stretching:
Warm up your body first, then stretch while your muscles are still warm.
Move through your range of movement, keeping control of the movement with your muscles. Do not allow momentum to control the movement by "flinging" or "throwing" your body parts around.
You may feel light resistance in your muscles, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.
Start with slow, low intensity movements, and gradually progress to full-speed movements through range of motion. Complete these motions for several repetitions (10-15 times.)
Finish with simulated quick cheerleading movements such as toe touches, leg kicks, stag leaps, or V-motions with your arms. Repeat for several repetitions (8-10 times.)
Rules for Static Stretching:
Warm up the muscles first.
Slowly take your muscles to the end of their range. You will feel slight resistance in the muscle, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.
Hold the stretch in a static position. Do not bounce.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat each stretch 3-4 times.
Essential Stretches for Cheerleading:
These muscles are your prime movers for cheerleading. You'll need to stretch these muscles each time you practice or before you perform. Don't forget to stretch both sides. The stretching program shown below will take about 15-20 minutes to complete.
Leg Swings Forward and Back
Forward then sideways lunge
Back Rotation Stretch:
Neck Side Bend Stretch
Lower Back Flexion Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
Posterior Shoulder Stretch