Winter Sports-specific Stretches
Winter sports recruit mostly leg muscles and incorporating sport-specific stretches will help you help you maintain flexibility and prevent injuries.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following guidelines:
• Perform stretches a minimum of 3 days per week.
• Warm up for 3-5 minutes prior to stretching.
• Static stretches should be held for 10 to 30 seconds.
Hip flexors: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, take a giant step forward with your right foot, into a lunge position. With arms hanging loosely at your sides, slowly bend your knees until your fingertips touch the ground; at this point your left knee is on the ground and your left toes are pointed. Allow your hips to sink into the stretch and hold. Repeat with your right leg.
Hamstrings: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, step forward six inches with your right foot. Bending your knees slightly place your hands on your left thigh, pressing your buttocks backward and keeping your back straight. Flex your right foot so that the heel is on the ground and toes are pointing up. As you begin to feel the stretch along the back of your right leg, tilt your tailbone up toward the sky. Hold. Repeat with your left leg.
Quadriceps: Ground your feet on a firm surface and find a focal point. Place all your weight on your right leg. Grasp your left instep with your left hand and bend your left leg behind you. With your left knee slightly behind your right leg, press your left hip forward while keeping your back straight and abs tight, and hold. You can lift your right arm perpendicular to the ground for added balance. Repeat with the right leg.
Calves: Stand facing a wall, tree, or post, approximately one foot away with your feet together. Place your right heel as close to the wall as is comfortable with the ball of your foot pressing against it, forming a 45-degree angle (keep your left foot on the ground). With your palms pressed against the prop for balance, gently push your heel into the ground. Next, while keeping your back straight, roll up on the ball of your left foot and slowly lean your upper body into the prop. Hold the stretch. Repeat with your left leg.
Inner thighs (adductors): Place the right heel on a raised and level surface, and then lunge laterally so the right toes are in a diagonal position and the right leg is extended. Slowly, bend the left knee keeping the knee over the heel, until the appropriate lengthening of the right adductors (inner thigh) can be felt. Hold the stretch. Repeat on the left leg.