Saturday, January 21, 2012

Exercises to Do for Heel Touch Cheerleading

Heel-touch exercises can help you become a stronger, more flexible cheerleader. To perform most cheerleading jumps, dances, tumbles and stunts, you need to have strong, limber legs and well-developed core muscles. AES Cougar Cheerleading recommends exercises such as Pilates, yoga, Tae Bo and Tai Chi to increase your overall level of flexibility and strength. Lengthening and strengthening your hamstrings, core and leg muscles through specific heel touching exercises enables you to more easily perform specific cheerleading moves and may help prevent injury.
Alternate Heel Touch
The alternate heel-touch exercise helps tone and firm your core and specifically focuses on developing strength in your obliques, which is important for cheerleaders who want to develop core stability and strength. In this exercise, you start by lying on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor, approximately shoulder-width apart. You contract your abdominal muscles to lift your torso and shoulders off the floor, keeping your arms straight by your sides and lifted about 2 inches off the floor. When you exhale, reach your right hand to your right heel, then inhale and return to center, keeping your abdominal muscles contracted and your shoulders off the floor. Exhale again, and reach your left hand to your left heel. You should perform as many heel touches as you can while maintaining proper form.
Hamstring Stretch
Cheerleading stunts such as the heel stretch require an advanced level of flexibility for proper execution. Cheerleaders must have a full range of motion through the hamstrings, low back, groin and glutes to execute the heel-stretch stunt. Performing the hamstring stretch with a partner can help develop flexibility in your hamstrings and glutes. Balance on your right leg and lift your left leg straight out in front of you. Ask your partner to gently raise your left leg until you feel mild tension in your hamstrings. Reach forward to touch your left heel with your hands and hold the stretch to a count of ten. Release and perform the stretch on your right leg.
Kneeling Heel Touch
The kneeling heel touch, also known as the camel pose, is a yoga stretching and strengthening exercise that focuses on your core, quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks. To perform this stretch, kneel on a folded blanket or an exercise mat with your knees together. Lengthen your torso and lean back to touch your heels with both hands, expanding your chest and shoulders. Tighten your core and quadriceps muscles and lean your head back to look up at the ceiling. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, then release.
Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is another yoga pose that can help you more easily perform cheerleading stunts such as the scorpion and back handspring, according to AES Cougar Cheerleading. In this pose, you lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms by your sides. Your heels should be as close to your buttocks as possible. Lift your tailbone toward the ceiling by pressing your arms and feet into the floor. Keep your head in a stable position to avoid straining your neck. Reach your hands toward your feet and try to touch your fingertips to your heels. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then release.

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