Different Types of Flexibility Training for Gymnastics
Gymnastics is a sport that requires a tremendous amount of strength and flexibility. Most gymnasts get plenty of time to work on flexibility at practice, but it never hurts to continue working at home. One of the most important reasons gymnasts need to make sure they consistently work on their flexibility is to avoid injury. Tight muscles in gymnastics often lead to strains and sprains that could’ve been avoided with a little extra stretching. Below is a list of stretches that can be performed at home to increase flexibility.
- The pike stretch: Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front of you. Lean forward and reach for your toes until your chest touches your thighs. Hold for 10-seconds and release. Repeat 5 times.
- Straddle stretch: Sit on the floor in a straddle. Lean to the left side, reaching both arms towards the left ankle. Hold for 10. Then reach to the right side, hold for 10. Finally, keeping tops of the feet towards the ceiling, lean forward as far as you can, trying to get your chest to the ground. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Splits: Practicing your left, right, and middle splits at home can make a tremendous difference in your performance at the gym. Make sure your front leg is straight, hips are square to the front, and your back knee and toes are on the ground. Allow gravity to pull you a little further into the split with each one you do. Hold each split for up to 1-minute.
- Cat stretches: Cat stretches are stretches for the shoulders. Start the stretch on your hands and knees. Then reach your hands forward, opening up your shoulders. Your hips will remain stationary. Continue stretching your arms forward while pressing your armpits towards the floor. The ideal position is with your armpits all the way to the floor. Hold this pose for about 30-seconds. Repeat if your shoulders require extra stretching.
- Bridges: Last but not least, bridges. Bridges work on back and shoulder flexibility. Without a good bridge, many skills in gymnastics are challenging, so it’s very wise to work them hard whenever you have the chance. Lay on the floor with the palms of your hands on the floor next to your ears, elbows pointed towards the ceiling. Your knees should be bent with feet flat on the floor. Push up evenly with your arms and legs so you’re in a bridge position. Hold for 10-seconds and release. Rock your back out and repeat 3 to 5 times.