Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stretching Workouts for Female Athletes

As a woman, you typically have wider hips and less musculature -- particularly in the upper body -- than a man. These differences affect the alignment, strength and movement of your arms and legs, sometimes leading to muscle imbalance and injury risk. You are more susceptible to knee, hip and shoulder injuries than men. Developing a flexibility routine for these areas is beneficial for female athletes; it can enhance your performance and help prevent injuries.
Before Beginning
Talk to your doctor about your physical fitness and what stretches are safe for you to perform. When stretching, recognize your flexibility limit. Move into the stretch until you feel mild tension; as you become more comfortable, you can deepen the stretch. Hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds without bouncing, and stretch both sides of the body. Warming up can increase your flexibility, but according to, you can also stretch cold muscles as long as you begin gently, to avoid injury.
Leg Stretches
Maintaining balance in your quadriceps and hamstrings -- the front and back of your thigh, respectively -- is important. You can stretch your quadriceps by standing or lying down. Pull one heel toward your buttocks, reach back with your hand and gently pull the heel closer to your body. Stretch the muscles that pull your thigh toward your torso by kneeling and placing one foot in front of you. Lean forward into your bent leg until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. To stretch your hamstrings, sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Flex your feet and slowly reach toward your ankles or feet.
Hip Stretches
Flexible hips can help maintain proper leg alignment and prevent lower leg injuries. To stretch the outside of your hip, sit on the floor with both legs in front of you. Bend one knee and place that foot on the other side of your straight leg. Hug your knee into your chest until you feel a stretch. Stretch your inner thigh muscles by bringing the soles of your feet together and pulling your heels close to your hips. Place your hands around your feet or ankles and push down on your knees with your elbows gently.
Arm and Shoulder Stretches
Keeping the muscles in your shoulders and arms flexible and strong can prevent rotator cuff stiffness and injury. To stretch the side of your shoulder and part of your upper arm, cross one arm in front of you, placing the hand of your opposite arm just above the crossed arm's elbow. Gently pull the arm closer to your body. Clasp your hands together behind your back and straighten your elbows to stretch the front of your shoulders. Stretch your triceps by raising an arm straight above your head and bending the elbow. Reach your other hand up and pull the elbow toward your head.

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