In order to prevent injury, it’s important to warm up and stretch out before practicing cheerleading. You should target the muscles you will use when exercising when choosing warm-up and stretching routines.
Getting Warmed Up
You should start your practice with an active warm-up. Getting your blood flowing and loosening up your muscles prior to stretching will prepare them for effective stretching. You want your warm-up routines to move in a variety of different planes of motion when cheerleading, since your body moves in a number of different directions.
Jogging around the gym for several minutes is a great way to start a warm up routine. Add other movements that target your muscles in different ways after you’ve jogged. The following options are available:
- Exercises that involve jumping jacks
- Side-to-side sliding
- Exercises that involve bounding or skipping
- Running backwards
- Crossing one foot in front of the other while doing the grapevine
- Let’s dance! It only takes a few minutes to dance your heart out if you put on some music
In order to perform your entire warm up, you should allow yourself about eight to ten minutes to do it. You will feel a little tired, but you will also feel more loose.
Getting Stretched Out
It might not be possible for youth cheerleaders to do all the fancy stunts that high school and college cheerleaders do during practice, but they do use almost every muscle group in their bodies during practice. When preparing for cheerleading practice, you should stretch every muscle in your body from your head to your toes.
It is important to hold each stretch for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next. Overall, stretching can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, depending on how long you spend on it. There are several types of stretching that can be performed, including:
- Stretch your chest and shoulders by clapping your hands behind your back and raising your arms as high as you can, to stretch your chest and shoulders as much as possible.
- Stretching your triceps is a good way to tone your back by reaching your hand up behind your head to touch the center of your back while grasping the elbow with your opposite hand while you stretch the back of your arm. In order to feel the stretch, you need to pull downward.
- Stretch your back and shoulders by extending one arm forward and across your chest, grasping that arm above the elbow with your opposite hand and pulling it toward the center of your body.
- A good way to stretch your quadriceps is to bend one knee backwards and grab the ankle on the same side of your body with your hand on the same side of your body. Balance yourself and pull the ankle towards your body in this way.
- Stretching the hips involves spreading your legs wide with your feet pointing outwards as you do this exercise. In the next step, you will need to squat down as far as you can and balance your elbows on your knees while stretching your hips as you do so.
- You can stretch your hamstrings by sitting on the ground and spreading your legs wide. In order to grasp your ankle with both or one of your hands, you should reach to one side according to how flexible you are.
- In order to work your abs and back, lie on your stomach and place your palms on the floor just wider than your shoulders. Then lift your torso and lift your back off the ground as you press up and lift your torso from the ground.
It is possible that your coach will have different stretches that she would like you to do, but these are likely to target the same muscle groups that your coach wants you to engage. There might be stretches that hurt or feel uncomfortable to you, so ask if you can switch them out for someone else if there is one you don’t like or that doesn’t feel right.
There are also specific stretches that your coach may recommend in order to increase your flexibility so that you can perform specific stunts. As an example, your coach may instruct you to bend your knees, pull your feet toward your head, and lean your head back more after you learn to perform the abdominal and back stretch.
Based on your performance, your coach may ask you to lean back farther. You will be able to stretch your abs, back, and hips while also increasing your flexibility for jumps and stunts as a result of this.
Additional Warm Up Exercises
After you have done a basic warm up and stretch, you may find that you need to do some specific stretches to prepare you for practice. A good example of this is when the routine you are going to practice involves doing the splits or particular air-born stunts, in which case you may want to warm up by doing those movements on the floor before starting the routine.
Make sure you do the splits, practice your heel stretch while standing on the ground, or do some half-effort jumps to prepare your body to give an all-out effort when it comes time to run.