The most important thing about stretching is warming-up. Stretching is NOT a warm-up, and you should never attempt to stretch your muscles before they have been warmed up. See the warm-up video under the Exercises/Conditioning section for an example of a good warm-up. You can also do exercises like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or jump rope to get warmed up. Warm-up until you break a light sweat.
Once your muscles are warm, then you can begin stretching. Below are some stretches that will really help your flexibility and make you a better cheerleader! But first, remember these important points about stretching:
- Always warm up first.
- Stretch BEFORE your full practice. A good warm up will make all the difference in your performance.
- Stretching AFTER your practice is extremely important too. Hold your stretches LONGER druing your cool down as this is the time you gain flexibility in your msucles.
- Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain.
- Hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Repeat each stretch 2 to 5 times, trying to stretch a little further each time.
- Do not bounce while you are stretching.
For additional stretching, try the poses in our Yoga for Cheerleaders section.
1. Shoulder Rolls: Roll your shoulders up and around to the back 5 times then change the direction to the front 5 times.
2. Hamstrings: These are the muscles that give you flexibility in your jumps; they are located on the top, back of your legs. With this exercise, reach up nice and tall then slowly bend over to reach your toes.
3. Deltoids or Shoulders: These are the muscles that make up your shoulder. Take one arm and reach across your body. Take your other arm and help pull your arm just below your elbow. Hold the stretch for a count of 5 then switch arms.
4. Tricepts: These are the muscles on the upper back of your arms; they help you push things away. Take your arm and try to touch the middle of your back. With the other arm, gently hold the elbow and hold your arm in place. Hold each stretch for a count of 5.
5. Bicepts: These are the muscles on the front of your arms and help you pull things to you. Put your arm straight in front of you and gently hold down your fingers until you feel the slight stretch in your bicept.
6. Upper Back and Inner Thighs:
Begin in a tripod position with your hands on your knees. Next, angle your right shoulder toward your left leg and hold for a count of 5. Switch to the other side. You should feel the stretch in your inner thighs, shoulders, and upper back.
7. Upper Back: Push your arms directly in front of you and arch your back to a "c" shape and hold the stretch for a count of 5.
8. Quadricepts: This is the largest muscle in your body and is located on the front of your thigh. To do the quad stretch, hold your ankle and point your knee straight down so you will not wobble.
9. Calf Stretch: Your calf is located on the bottom back of your leg. Put your heel in front of you and flex your foot. Rest your arms of the opposite thigh for balance. Hold your stretch for a count of at least 5. Remember, do not bounce.
10. Here are some additional stretches for your legs and back:
Standing Leg Stretches:
Straddle Leg Stretches:
"Nine" Leg Stretches: