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Cheerleading is a sport that requires lots of flexibility. It’s needed for performing stunts, jumps, and routines with precision and grace. It also is...

Cheerleading is a sport that requires lots of flexibility. It’s needed for performing stunts, jumps, and routines with precision and grace. It also is required to be able to split or do a backbend for routines. Improving flexibility can take your cheerleading skills to the next level. 

Flexibility refers to the ability of your muscles and joints to move through a full range of motion without pain or stiffness.

While every cheerleader isn’t as flexible as others, flexibility can be worked on. The following effective strategies and exercises can help improve flexibility and enhance your performance on the mat and on the sidelines. Stretch your limits to take your cheerleading performance to new heights with the following tips. 

Why Flexibility Matters

Cheerleaders need to be flexible. Flexibility allows cheerleaders to touch the toes and do the splits. But more than that, flexibility is needed in cheerleading to achieve a greater range of motion, reduce the risk of injury, and execute skills. Increased flexibility also enhances overall athleticism, agility, and performance on the cheerleading squad.

Stretching Basics

Let’s start at the basics, Always start your stretching routine with a gentle warm-up to prepare your muscles for flexibility training. A dynamic warm up is always the best to get the blood pumping and muscles and joints engaged. This can include light jogging, jumping jacks, or dynamic stretches like arm circles and leg swings. 

Only when warmed up, the cheerleader can move into static stretches. This means holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds without moving. Focus on taking deep, controlled breaths to relax and lengthen the muscles.

 

Effective Flexibility Exercises

Here are some effective flexibility exercises tailored specifically for cheerleaders:

Straddle Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs spread wide apart in a straddle position. Lean forward from the hips, reaching your hands toward the floor or grasping your ankles. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. Cheerleaders should feel the stretch in the inner thighs and hamstrings. Deepen the stretch by gently press your knees toward the floor.

Standing Quad Stretch: Stand tall and bring one foot up behind you toward your glutes. Grasp the ankle with the same hand. Keep your knees close together and your standing leg straight. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the front of your thigh (quadriceps). Switch legs and repeat.

Backbend: Lie on your back with your hands placed on the floor beside your ears. Press into your hands and feet, hands is you are serving a platter. Lift your hips toward the ceiling to come into a bridge position. Keep your arms straight, elbows locked and your head lifted, opening up your chest and arching your back. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds, focusing on lengthening your spine and opening up your shoulders.

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Shoulder Stretch: Stand tall and reach one arm across your body, using the opposite hand to gently press the arm toward your chest. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the back of your shoulder and upper back. Switch arms and repeat.

Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall outward. Hold onto your feet with your hands and gently press your knees toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in your inner thighs and groin.

Improve Flexibility 

To really stretch your flexibility limits, cheerleaders should be consistent with stretching. Incorporate stretching and flexibility exercises into your daily routine, dedicating at least 10-15 minutes each day to flexibility training. 

Yoga or Pilates classes are a great way to cross train and further improve flexibility. These disciplines also help balance, and core strength which will help in cheerleading routines. 

Listen to Your Body

Always listen to your body and avoid pushing too hard. When stretching, it’s normal to feel slight discomfort as the cheerleader is working on improving flexibility. However, never force a stretch or stretch to the point of pain. Gradually progress in the stretch. 

 

Improved flexibility can enhance performance, reduce the risk of injury, and promote overall well-being, and take your cheerleading skills to new heights. So, grab your mat, stretch it out, and get ready to shine on the sidelines and on the mat!

Lauren Keating

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