Every cheerleader knows that one of the best preventative measures you can take to avoid common injuries during cheerleading is to perform cheerleading stretches before practicing and performing routines.
Helpful Cheerleading Stretches
There are a variety of cheerleading stretches that should be done before a good work out. The type of stretching that you do should depends on the type of exercising that you're going to do. Stretching muscles helps warm them up and keep them flexible.
All cheerleaders should be able to perform the splits (or close to it at least) during the cheerleading season. Stretch into the splits with the leg that feels the most comfortable in front. (For most girls, this is the right leg.) Stretch down to the front, and then sit straight up with your hands over your head, stretching your spine.
Slowly rotate your hips into a "toe touch" or "sideways splits" position. Stretch your arms straight up and then all the way out in front of you on the floor.
Finally, rotate your hips back around so that the other leg is in front and do the same thing all over again.
You should never stretch to the point of discomfort. If you do, you risk injuring your muscles. If you cannot perform the stretch as described, work up to it slowly every day. Do the splits, get out of them; do the toe touch position, get out of that; and then do the splits the other way.
Not only is there a Herkie jump, but there's also a Herkie stretch. Like the jump you sit on the floor and put one leg bent behind you and one leg stretched out in front of you. Raise your arms over your head and lean down and touch your toe. Do the same thing on the other side.
Toe Touch Stretch
This cheerleading stretch goes by a variety of names, but you basically sit on the floor and touch your toes. When you are truly flexible, you should be able to touch your nose to your knees and wrap your hands around your feet at the arch.
While a back bend stretch isn't essential if you are not tumbling, it is absolutely necessary if you are tumbling. Ideally, you'll want to include a few back bends into your warm up routines if you are tumbling.
Cheerleaders use their arm muscles more than people might think. Arms have to be toned and sharp in order to perform sharp movements. While building muscles in the arms helps with that, you'll find your muscles become soar if you don't stretch them first. Try raising one elbow above your head and reaching down the center of your back. Also, take one arm across the front of your body. Both stretches are designed to stretch the tricep muscle.
Unless you are already super flexible, increasing flexibility should be a general goal when it comes to performing cheerleading stretches. Try these tried and true tips for increasing your flexibility while you stretch:
- The old adage practice makes perfect is apropos here. You need to stretch every single day - even if it's just for ten minutes.
- Never stretch so much that you're in pain. If you're in pain, you're not doing it right. Instead, stretch just beneath the "threshold of pain". This is just about the right spot to stretch to make muscles longer and more limber.
- Never practice without stretching. If you want to lose all your hard work in a hurry, get injured during practice. Muscles that have been stretched will go right back to where they were before quicker than you'd think. Likewise, make sure you warm up well with jumping jacks and other sundry activities. A good warm up should be about ten to twenty minutes.