By Maria Cuevas, DPT
Wellness Blog Contributor
(March 23, 2016) — Your bracket is filled, your office pool is underway and any to-do list you intended to complete will have to wait until after the championship. March Madness has begun! Basketball is going to be the brain for everyone especially as the weather continues to warm up and the opportunities to play pick-up games are more frequent.
If you watch any of the NCAA tournament, you probably notice before the whistle, the players do a good stretch and warm-up. This is a crucial part of any game, even an informal pick-up one that we ‘normal’ players tend to skip altogether.
Here are a few important stretching techniques that will help you improve your game and prevent injuries from happening:
Quadriceps Stretch: Stand up while holding your balance with one hand. Use the other one to hold your ankle back as you bend your knee. You should feel the stretch on the front of your thigh. For basketball, this stretch will help you with your sprinting, agility and jumping. Perform stretch three times holding for 20 seconds each time.
Wall Lat Stretch: Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Take a step back, folding at the hips until your arms and torso form a straight line. You should feel a stretch in your middle to lower back. For basketball, this stretch helps that jumping motion and will also help you use the correct form in your defensive stance. Perform stretch three times holding for 20 seconds each time.
Hamstring Stretch: Stand and bend over, keeping your legs straight and try to touch tour toes. You should feel the stretch on the back of your thighs. For basketball, this stretch will help prevent injuries while you are slowing down and changing directions. Perform stretch three times holding for 20 seconds each time.
High Knees: Jog up and down the court as you bring your knees up towards your chest with each step. Do this five times.
Butt Kicks: Jog up and down the court while you try to kick your feet back and hit your behind. Do this five times.
Side Steps: Side step up and down the court in a semi-squat stance. Do this five times.
Back Pedal: Jog backwards up and down court. Do this five times.
Finally, it’s important to shoot around before starting a game. Start a short distance from the basket and work your way out towards the free throw line and around the corners. Always follow through and be patient.
Starting any new activity or getting back to playing one after a long break takes some time to finesse. Don’t rush your moves and be sure to do these easy stretches and warm-ups so you avoid injury.
A little prevention can go a long way to living a healthier lifestyle or just kick starting those health and fitness goals you’ve set for yourself.
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