Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stretching Tips for Cheerleaders


A competitive cheerleader since high school, Kristin Kinkel attended Hawaii Pacific University under a full-tuition cheerleading scholarship. Kristin Kinkel consistently earned top-three finishes in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II competitions and went on to cheer professionally for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The cheerleader's stretching routine should begin with a thorough warm-up, which raises the temperature of the muscles and increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. This phase of the stretching session is essential, as stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.

The cheerleader is then ready to stretch the major muscle groups that he or she will use in competition. These include the muscles of the lower and upper legs, hips, core, and shoulder girdle. Different stretches will address each of these muscle groups individually.

When performing a static stretch, in which the muscle lengthens to its limit, the athlete can feel the muscle in question as it reaches the point of resistance. Athletes must take care not to push the stretch to the point of pain but should ease off when mild discomfort is noticeable. The athlete can then hold this position for approximately 10 to 30 seconds in a series of four repetitions.

The full stretching session should take approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Cool-down stretches at the end of a session, held longer than earlier stretches, can help to increase muscle flexibility and minimize soreness. It is important to repeat this full process at least three times per week to see results in performance.