Wrestling is a sport that requires practice, discipline and an incredible amount of strength as well as flexibility. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best stretches wrestlers can perform to enhance this flexibility and decrease their risk of injury.
Stretching for wrestlers should take place at both the start and end of practice. When practice is starting, they should do a cardiovascular warm-up such as jumping jacks, jumping rope or jogging in place for about five minutes to warm up the muscles prior to stretching. An overall warm up that is specific to the sport is also important prior to the start of practice. Many clubs or teams may perform a dynamic warm up that includes moving stretches. These stretches help prepare the body and muscles for the movements that will be needed during the sport.
Stretching after practice or a match is also important for injury prevention and should be included as part of a cool down. Stretching after practice may include longer duration holds of 30- 60 seconds and can enhance overall flexibility for the athlete.
An example of a dynamic stretching warm up for wrestlers can include some of the following:
This stretch is for the abdominal and oblique muscles. Begin lying on your stomach, place hands under your shoulders and press up lifting your torso from the ground. Only go as high as you can while keeping your hips on the ground. Gently twist the torso to one side in the press up position to stretch more on the side rather than the middle.
There are many ways to stretch the hamstrings. For example, the Frankenstein walk is a common dynamic stretch that is great during a pre-workout. For this stretch, you need to gently kick the leg forward with the knee straight and reach with the opposite hand forward. This stretch can be done in place or while moving across the floor.
A great static stretch for the hamstrings can be performed by sitting with one leg bent and reaching forward toward your toe. Try to keep your low back in a straight line, and prevent rounding through the back.
There are several ways to stretch the front of the hip where the hip flexors are located. One easy way to stretch the hip flexors is in a half kneeling position. For this stretch, one knee is on the ground and the other leg’s foot is on the ground. Do a small lunge forward to feel a stretch in the front of the hip for the leg that has the knee on the ground. An upright posture of the trunk will help you feel the stretch in the proper muscle.
Stretching your chest and pectoral muscles is necessary to enhance shoulder flexibility. This stretch uses a bench or table. Stand facing away from the bench and place your hands on the bench with fingers pointing away (see image). Then slowly bend your arms and lower your body. A stretch will be felt across the front of the chest and shoulders.
Another stretch for the arms and the muscles of the back is the child’s pose stretch. Kneel on both legs with toes together and knees apart. Reach forward with both arms and head looking down. You can reach more to either side for a deeper stretch.
Wrestlers need good flexibility in their sport. There are many different options for stretching to improve flexibility, but the aforementioned stretches are a good starting point. Should an injury occur, make sure to visit your closest Athletico location for a free assessment.
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Page P. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2012;7(1):109-119.