Stretching and Flexibility

By Kevin Miller, DC

The high school season is almost here and the collegiate season has already started.   In this article, I want to discuss the importance of stretching and flexibility of your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints of the whole body.   I can tell you first-hand how important stretching is for your body.   I visited the Grandview wrestling room and just happened to have my wrestling shoes in my workout bag.  This crazy idea to get on the mat and scrap with kids half my age was not a good one.   Let's just say I was very sore the next day and needed to spend more time stretching my old man body.   In all honestly, I was completely out of shape but I did enjoy it.   There is nothing like stepping on the mat and feeling the exhaustion even if it was just a hard drilling session.

I want to go over some very important stretches to do before and after practices.    The first one is stretching the psoas muscle.   The psoas muscle connects the lower spine to your femur bone.   A more common name is the hip flexors.   This muscle is important to bring the leg up.  For example, a stand up on the bottom position or bringing the trail leg up after a double or single leg.   The hip flexors are powerful but if not warmed up and stretched it can really tighten up and pinch nerves in the lower back and give you strange sensations running down the front of your leg.  Here is an example of a hip flexor stretch.

Another important muscle to stretch is the hamstrings.  These muscles are on the back of the leg between the hip and knee.    In my clinical experience, this is the muscle group that all people struggle with to keep loosened up.   The hamstrings are the antagonists to the quads or thighs and are used in all forms of movement like walking, running, bending forward at the waist, squatting, leg curls.   The hamstrings are going to be engaged in every position on the mat.  The two I think are most important are in a defensive position if your leg is elevated.   The more flexible the hamstring is the harder it will be for your opponent to take you down.   The other position is finishing a takedown and going after a bottom leg position.   The stronger and powerful the hamstring the better chances of elevating the bottom leg and turning your opponent.    Here are examples of stretching the hamstring.

Another stretch that I think is important for wrestlers is the child's pose stretch.   This stretch isolates the lumbar and thoracic muscles.  It opens both hip joints for great stretching.  It will stretch out the latissimus dorsi and shoulder muscles.   It is a great warm up to do before practice because it does such a good job of elongating muscles in the body.   Hip flexibility is so important in scramble situations and if you are fighting off a leg attack on your feet.   The lats are important for pulling a leg in on a shot or riding someone on top.  The lumbar muscles need to be flexible in all positions.   Here is an example of child's pose.

These are static stretches to put in your arsenal.   There are many more dynamic warm-ups and stretches you can do also.   I will cover some more of those in the next article.   It's getting cold outside but keep your body warm and flexible inside those wrestling rooms.

Kevin Miller DC.