5 Minutes to Flexibility

    Your meet is over, or your practice, and it’s time to leave, right? Hang on a minute, what about taking care of your body after the work? Static stretching lengthens muscles, relieves tension and stress and helps with muscle soreness. A static stretch is a stretch that is held in a comfortable but challenging position for a length of time, usually 10-30 seconds. 

    Static stretching helps to increase flexibility and range of motion which is extremely important to pole vaulters, but everyone no matter the fitness level can benefit from stretching. When you do it matters too. Studies have shown that there is no benefit to performing static stretching before a workout. Dynamic stretching is best to ready the body for exercise, you can read more about that here. (hyperlink to blog post).

    Some good static stretches to include in your routine are: neck stretch, cross-body shoulder stretch, chest, quad, and hamstring stretches. By stretching all the major muscle groups, you are creating flexible muscles which protect joints and help with range of motion. Let’s look at a few.

    Neck Stretch. Try to touch one ear to your shoulder and give a light touch on the head with the same-side hand while pressing the opposite palm to the floor. Lots of tension builds in the neck and shoulder muscles, this move releases all that and feels incredibly good. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides. 

    Chest Stretch. Standing tall, reach around and clasp your hands behind your back while lifting your chest up and out. Raise your clasped hands as far up and back as feels comfortable and hold for 15-30 seconds then release. This move really opens the chest, shoulders and upper arms getting oxygen and blood flow to all those muscles which work so hard during vaulting. 

    Cross-body Shoulder Stretch. Standing tall, bring one arm across your chest, then with the opposite hand, give a light press to the upper arm while dropping your shoulder. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat with the other side. You’ll feel a nice elongating in the upper arm and shoulder. 

    Hamstring and back stretch. Sit on the ground with legs together extended out in front of you. Now reach to your toes while keep your back straight. Hold for 15-30 seconds. While holding, if you can reach further and grab your toes or feet, go for the deeper stretch. All those muscles that run from the feet to the upper back are connected, by lengthening those muscles you are providing whole-body flexibility and helping to prevent low back pain.

    Quadricep stretch. Standing tall, bring one heel toward your buttocks, cup your hand around your shoelaces and pull your foot up to your rear end while keeping your knee toward the ground and your torso straight. You can use the other hand to rest on an object for stability. Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat on the other side. Great stretch for the front of the thigh which works so hard on the run. 

    There you have it. In just 5 minutes you have relaxed your body, increased blood flow and aided in overall flexibility. Stress and over exertion causes muscles to tighten and hurt, static stretching aids in relaxed movement and less tension. Healthy muscles perform better. Make up your own routine and add it into notes in the fitness section of the app. #toolsforbetterpolevaulting.