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Stretching and Flexibility Exercises for Athletes

A full list of stretching and flexibility exercises for athletes

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Updated May 16, 2014

female and male runners stretching outdoor.
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Stretching and flexibility go hand in hand with sports for a variety of reasons. Stretching not only feels good, but it helps an athlete maintain an appropriate and balanced range of motion in specific joints.

Stretching and Flexibility Guidelines

Stretching can have a variety of benefits if it's done properly. Review the following tips before you start any stretching routine.
  1. Stretching vs. Flexibility: Stretching is a way of actively increasing our range of motion and thereby increasing our flexibility.
  2. Stretch safely. Always follow the safe stretching guidelines to prevent injuries.
  3. Perform static stretching. This means you hold a stretch for about 30-60 seconds at a time and don't bounce or overstretch.
  4. Stretch after you warm up. Research shows this is the best way to improve range of motion.
  5. Perform a dynamic warm up before your workouts to make sure your muscles are warm.
  6. Keep in mind each joint has an ideal range of motion and more flexibility isn't always better.
  7. To maintain good muscle balance, stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones.
  8. Avoid over-stretching or stretching cold muscles.

Stretching Exercises - Upper Body

Use these stretches to target specific areas of the upper body.

Stretching Exercises - Lower Body

Use these stretches to target specific areas of the lower body.

Stretching Exercises By Sport

Here are some basic stretching routines for athletes who play a specific sport.

Injury-Specific Stretching Routines

Here are some sample stretching routines for athletes who have specific injuries.

Source

Andersen, J. C. Stretching Before and After Exercise: Effect on Muscle Soreness and Injury Risk. Journal of Athletic Training 40(2005): 218-220

Herbert RD, de Noronha M. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4.

Ian Shrier MD, PhD and Kav Gossal MD. The Myths and Truths of Stretching: Individualized Recommendations for Healthy Muscles, The Physician and Sportsmedicine, VOL 28, #8, August 2000.

Witvrouw, Erik, Nele Mahieu, Lieven Danneels, and Peter McNair. Stretching and Injury Prevention An Obscure Relationship. Sports Medicine 34.7(2004): 443-449

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