Want stunting advice and tips for cheerleading or gymnastics? Then you've come to the right place! Check out all of Cheerleading Blog's how-to articles on stunts and tumbling. We'll walk you through the basics, from simple cheerleading jumps, like herkies, to advanced tumbling, like handsprings. This time, we'll share the top stretches and conditioning for cheer flyers and tumblers. Flexibility is so important and by correctly stretching, you can easily do the splits and more!
In other fitness posts, we've covered muscle building exercises for flyers, primarily focusing on the importance of leg and core strength. Check out the strengthening your legs and "The Weekly Fitness Post: Core Building For Flyers"
articles for even more great tips. This post will cover the required stretching needed to perform death defying stunts such as the "scorpion,"
the "bow-and-arrow," and the "heal stretch."
The flyer must be one of the most limber members of the squad. Keep in mind, while the list below has some great stretching positions, you need to perform these stretches after practice on practice days and at least every other day if you want to see results. Be persistent and don't give up! Remember that while stretching, don't push your muscles too hard and don't bounce. It's okay if your not as flexible as your teammate, some people are naturally born with flexibility (if that's you, lucky you!). What's important is that you listen to your body and progress at your own speed.
- Back Stretch: Lie down on your back on the floor. Keep your right leg straight and bend your left leg with your arms stretched into a "T" position. Rest your left knee near your chest, hold the position for a couple of seconds and the cross your left leg over your right leg. Try to touch your left knee to the floor without raising your body or your shoulders. You can use your right hand to help gently pull your leg closer to the ground. Repeat the stretch with your right leg.
- Splits: We are all too familiar with this stretch. If you can perform a split without over exerting yourself, go into a split with your right leg forward and slowly lean forward towards that leg. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible. Repeat with your left leg forward. When your finished, go into a center split and slowly stretch forward like you did previously, keeping your back straight. If you can't perform a split safely and comfortably, you can perform a half split by bending your back leg at the knee into a right angle. Your legs should look like your performing a herkie, but they'll be flat on the floor.
- Elevated Split: This is a more difficult stretch and advised for only when you've mastered the splits. Sit in a side split, put your arms up over your head and lean back. For more of a challenge, slightly elevate your back leg with rolled towel, blanket, or a pillow and repeat the process as your muscles release. This stretch is great for the scorpion or the arabesque. If you are stretching for a bow-and-arrow or heal stretch, you can do this stretch with the front leg elevated. Instead of leaning back, you would lean towards the elevated leg.
- Front Stretch: Sit in what is called a pike position by putting your feet together, straight out in front of you without bending your knees. Keeping your back as straight as possible, slowly stretch forward reach towards your feet until you feel the stretch in your legs. Hold the stretch for a couple of seconds and then continue to reach toward your toes as your muscles release.
- Hip Flexor: Stand in an upright position with feet hip distance apart with your toes, knees and hips in a straight line. Take a big step forward with your right leg and bend it at the knee, so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Your left leg should be slightly bent and with your knee almost touching the ground. Lean forward so your elbows are touching the ground. If this is too hard, you can use your hands for stability as well. Your pelvis should be tilted back while pushing your hipbones forward until you feel a gentle stretch in that area. Hold as your muscles slowly release and switch legs.
- Hamstring Stretches: For this stretch you will need a towel or a resistance band. Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Keeping your left knee bent and left foot flat on the floor, take your right leg and put it in the air. Then take your resistant band or towel and place it on the arch of your right foot and straighten your leg. Slowly pull your right leg towards you as the muscles release. If you need more of a challenge, lay your left leg straight, on the ground. Repeat on left leg.
- Back Stretch: Get into the backbend position and move your feet as close to your hands as possible. If you need a challenge, you can modify this stretch by laying on your stomach and pushing your chest up with your hands on the floor. Try to touch your feet to your head. This stretch is great if your trying to accomplish or improve your scorpion.
Remember to do a short warm up before you start any stretching regiment. Warming up your muscles with a light jog or any other cardio activity will help you see results faster and prevent injury. We'll see you next week for techniques that will help flyers develop a better balance