For the successful cheerleader, stretching is a vitally important part of their craft. With proper stretching techniques, you'll see your performances benefit and your injuries deter. Believe it or not, leg injuries are often the result of a lack of stretching or even stretching incorrectly.

Perhaps the most important muscle for today's cheerleader is the hamstring. Basket tosses, pike jumps, stunts, toe touches, and split leaps will all benefit from its maximum flexibility. If you're unfamiliar with the hamstring, it is the large grouping of muscles that run through the back of your thigh. There are two parts to the hamstring, the inner and the outer, and it is important to stretch both. In fact, most injuries occur when only one part is being stretched.

Here are some different ways to stretch your hamstring. Try them out!

  • 1. Seated Hamstring Stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out. Then, keeping a straight back, stretch down and bring your ribs forward. Make sure your knees stay straight at all times. If you can't keep your knees straight, move your legs apart into a straddle position. You can also stretch the outer and inner hamstrings separately with this technique. For instance, when you roll your legs inward, the outer part will stretch more. If you roll your legs outward, the inner part will stretch more.

  • 2. Standing Hamstring Stretch. Put your foot onto something up off the ground like a chair. Then, make sure your hips are pointing straight forward and keep your feet off the ground. Next, stand up as tall as you can. Making sure you don't arch your back, lean forward as if you were hinging at your hips. Feel that burn!

  • 3. Splits. Performing splits will stretch the hamstring of your front leg. Make sure your hips are square, or facing forward. If you're having trouble doing this, use a mat to keep your squared-off angle.

  • 4. "Pancake" Position. This is also called the straddle. When you lean towards the center, your inner hamstring and thigh muscle will stretch. With this, you can improve your flexibility on either hamstring depending on which side you lean towards. Keep in mind that your hips should be in line with your leg!

Try performing some of these stretches! With time and practice, you will not only get better at these over time, but your cheerleading performance will benefit as well! Whether you are cheerleading for your school's football team or performing at a competition, the more flexible you are the better you will perform!

With cheerleading try-outs and practices right around the corner, it's the perfect time to get your cheer apparel for the upcoming season. Chasse offers a number of different uniform and practice wear options to help you find the best fit. New items include lycra skirts with built-in shorts, v-panel knit shorts, and a large selection of body wear options.

Also, be sure to check out the great selection of new cheer tops  available. From tees, to tanks, to body suits, Chasse manufactures high quality products at competitive prices, making sure you can get the gear you need at the price you want to pay.