If you're someone who's highly involved in the sport of basketball, one element of your training that you must be sure that you don't overlook is the stretching component.
Many basketball players are fast to fill up their schedule with practicing basketball drills and then getting into the weight room to strengthen the main muscles that are called into play when performing the sport, but few ever take the time to think about the added benefits that stretching can bring.
Not only is it important to perform stretching as part of your workout because of the fact it will help you bring down your heart rate closer to normal and allow the body to cool down, but stretching afterwards will also help to increase your range of motion.
This is going to be especially important because the greater the range of motion you're able to move through, the better performance you'll be able to give.
Those basketball players who have a restricted range of motion will notice that they aren't able to make as many plays as those who are more flexible.
Finally, stretching is extremely important, as the title of this article suggests, to prevent injuries. Injuries can quickly take you out of the game entirely, so it's vital that you do what you can to stop this from occurring.
Let's take a brief look right now at the main stretches that you'll want to be considering as a basketball player looking to maximize your performance and prevent injury.
The first of the stretches is the quad stretch. Each time you lunge forward, whether to receive a pass or start up on a sprint across the court, your quad muscles will be called into play.
Along with them, the hip flexors will also be working whenever you're running at an accelerated pace. A good quad stretch will help target both of these areas.
To perform the quad stretch, get into a standing position with the butt squeezed and hips pulled upwards and then bend one knee, bringing the foot up to the bum. Hold the foot into the bum as close as possible while thinking of pulling back on the knee.
Be sure however that you keep the knee in proper alignment with the other knee as this is vital to preventing pain from developing due to the stretch and keeping in proper form.
Hold for 30-60 seconds and then switch sides and repeat.
Moving along, the next stretch that you must be performing is the shoulder stretch. The shoulders of basketball players do have a tendency to get quite tense and tight after doing shot after shot after shot.
If you aren't stretching them out regularly, there is a very good chance that you will begin to suffer from shoulder pain down the road.
To perform the shoulder stretch, stand upright against a wall and gently place the arm back behind you. From there, lean into the wall and you should begin to feel a slight stretch on the shoulder joint.
Hold this for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides and repeat. Note that you should never feel deep pain while doing this stretch, but rather a gentle pull. If at any point it is pain you feel, that's a good indication that you're pushing a little too hard and need to back off slightly before resuming.
Next up we have calf stretches. If you're big into taking jump shots, you'll definitely want to be including these in your post-workout protocol. Tight calves are very common among many basketball players and this could eventually lead to shin pain down the road.
Calf stretches are quick and easy to perform and can be done at any point during the day.
To perform a calf stretch, place a foot up against the wall until you feel a slight stretch in the calf muscle. From there, lean into the wall ever so slightly, which will deepen the stretch and really have you feeling it.
Pause in this position and then relax. Switch sides and then repeat on the other leg.
Alternatively, you can also stand on a step with the heels just off the edge and then slowly allow your weight to drop downwards, stretching the calves in this manner.
After you've finished your calf stretches, next you need to perform a few side stretches as well. Since you'll often be turning in various directions throughout the plays, whether to pass a ball, receive the ball, or just outmaneuver an opponent, it's important that you're limber in this region.
To stretch out the sides, slowly stand with the feet slightly wider than hip width apart and bend over to one side, with the opposite hand overhead.
Reach sideways as far as possible, pause, and then reverse to the other direction again.
This is another stretch that you don't want to push too far with – just enough so that you feel a light stretch taking place.
Finally, don't forget about your hamstrings. With enough running back and forth along the court, these can also get quite tense and taught over time. To stretch them out, simply lean forwards towards the ground, trying to bring your hands to touch your toes.
Feel the stretch deep within the hamstring muscle, pause, and then come back to a standing position.
Note that this stretch can also be performed in a seated position with the legs extended in front of you and you reaching forwards towards them.
So there you have the main stretches that any basketball player would really benefit from including in their workout program.
Many people often overlook the importance of stretching in terms of making optimal progress with their training routine, so it's time that you gave it the attention that it deserves.
About Shannon Clark
Shannon Clark has a degree in Exercise Science and is an AFLCA certified personal trainer. She has written on the topics of health, fitness and nutrition for the last 8 years. Her insights are regularly published on bodybuilding, askmen and FitRated.com. FitRated is a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans and weight loss strategies. Check out the latest review of Total Gym XLS!