5 Basketball Stretches You Ought To Be Doing

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If you’ve ever stretched before getting out on the court like this guy is, you could actually have been priming yourself for a loss. Stretching is a necessity for preventing injury and increasing your range of motion, but those static stretches you picked up in high school PE can slightly weaken muscles by up to 10 per cent. On the other hand, dynamic stretches or light exercise can loosen you up without impacting your performance quite as much. Add these stretching exercises perfect for basketball players to your pre-game ritual.
 
 
Photo: Jeff Kramer/Creative Commons

Trunk rotations
Standing and bent-over trunk rotations will loosen up your core and chest muscles, improving your maneuverability and ability to change direction quickly. Standing with your feet at about shoulder width, knees bent, stretch your hands out to your sides. Slowly turn your body to either side at the waist, producing a light stretch in your lower back as you reach either extreme of your range of motion. Do this about 10 times on a side before repeating the exercise with your arms raised to shoulder height, thus loosening your chest and middle core. To add more benefits, bend over as you do the exercise, touching the opposite toe as you swing to warm up your inner thighs. Just be sure to keep your back straight.

Full squats
Squats are for more than just improving your vertical leap—they’re also a great method for getting your blood pumping and preparing your legs for a game. Squatting with good form (keep that back straight!) stretches out your buttocks, thighs and back. If you don’t limit yourself to 90 degrees, however, you’ll also hit some muscle groups in your hips—an area prone to injury—as well as bolster your ankle mobility. Crank out about 15-20 of these slowly, briefly stopping at the bottom of each movement to ensure a good stretch.

Lunges
Performing walking lunges before a game will continue to stretch out your leg and hip muscles, but this time more along the back. Keeping your trunk straight, lunge forward far enough to feel a stretch along your hamstrings, and deep enough so that you can feel a stretch in your hip flexors. Maintain the positioning of your rear leg so that you stay on your toes, producing a third stretching point in your calves. To switch legs, step forward and repeat the movement. Perform these 15-20 times per leg.

Leg swings
Capitalize on the looseness the lunges created in your legs by moving into leg swings, which will loosen up your front and back thighs, as well as your buttocks. Position yourself perpendicular to a bar or wall and use it to support yourself while standing on the foot nearest to it. Keeping your trunk and back straight, kick your free leg forward lightly, allowing it to stop naturally as the muscle reaches its full range of motion. On the backswing, add a little juice to produce a similar stretch in the front of your thighs. After about 10 repetitions, turn your body and switch legs. Once you’re done with those, perform similar sideways swings across your body to warm up the remainder of your range of motion.

Calf stretches
Moving further down your lower body, calf stretches ensure that everything below your knees works well. Position yourself on the ground on all fours, with your arms and legs straight. Support yourself on your toes and ensure your heels are off the ground. Pump your legs by alternately pressing your heels down to the floor, producing a stretch in your lower leg. Aim to keep a round of these going for around 60 seconds before tipping off.

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