Feeling some pain after you play basketball? Well, here are some stretches to do before and after you play to prevent pain and soreness.
When you’re young, you can just step onto the court and play and not feel anything the next day (or 5 minutes after the game).
But when you get up there in age and you don’t prep your body before you play, you feel all sorts of pain as soon as you step off of the court.
This was something I found out the hard way.
I was in my early 30s and I went to play basketball with some of my cousins. I didn’t have a lot of time that day so I just warmed up by shooting around for a few minutes.
I didn’t go through my regular stretching routine or anything. I thought it wouldn’t be too bad since I was only going to play for an hour or so.
After two or three pick-up games, I felt a tightness in my neck and shoulder. A couple of hours later, that tightness turned into pain.
I had a hard time sleeping that night as a result and was uncomfortable the entire next day. I was just walking around like a grumpy old grandpa, getting irritated by everything.
Feeling horrible, I stretched and massaged that area multiple times a day for the next few days and the pain went away.
I’m sure you’ve been through this. And I’m sure it sucked for you as much as it did for me.
So, I’m going to share with you my stretching routine before and after basketball games so that you can prevent pain.
Pre-Game Stretches (Dynamic Stretches)
The goal of stretching before games is to lubricate your joints to prevent injury. You want to do movements that get your blood flowing to your joints to warm and loosen them up.
So, here are the movements I do (do 20 reps of each movement; 10 on each side):
1) Chest Stretch/Flap – This stretch is good for loosening up your chest, upper back, and part of your shoulders.
How to do: The movement looks like a chest fly. Spread your arms wide apart and close them into you as if you’re hugging yourself. Do them at a medium speed and alternate which arm goes on top.
2) Shoulder Rotation – Shoulder rotations are good for warming up your shoulder joints and some of your chest and upper back.
How to do: This movement looks like the strokes when you’re swimming. First, swing your arms forward for front rotations. Then, swing them backwards for back rotations. You may have to do the backstrokes one arm at a time to get the full rotation.
3) Neck Turns – Neck turns loosen your neck and shoulders.
How to do: First, place your hands on your shoulders. Then slowly turn your neck left, then right. After 10 total turns, slowly lift your head back so that you’re looking at the sky, then down so that you’re looking at the ground.
4) Waist Turns – Waist rotations are good for warming up your hips, core, and lower back.
How to do: Place your feet a little wider than shoulder width. Then slowly rotate your upper body to the left, feel a stretch in your midsection, then rotate it to the right until you feel a stretch. You can also put your arms up to your chest level to direct the direction and the depth of your stretch.
5) Half Windmills – Windmills are a good stretch for the hips and sides of your body.
How to do: Stand shoulder width apart. Place your hands on the back of your head and slowly lean down on the left side of your torso. Go to a point where you won’t lose balance and topple over. Then, raise your body back to the center and lean on the other side.
6) Forward Bends – Forward bends are great for loosening up the back of your legs (hamstrings and calf) and lower back.
How to do: There are many ways to do this but I like the toe touch way. Spread your legs so that they are shoulder-width apart. You can also slightly bend your knees if you need to. Slowly bend forward and touch your toes (or the ground) with your hands. Slowly raise your body back to the starting point. That’s one rep.
7) Half Squats – Half squats are a good movement to warm up your knee joints and quads.
How to do: Stand shoulder width apart and squat (or sit) down until your upper and lower legs create a 90-degree angle. Then stand back up. You can swing your arms in front of you as you go down to create balance.
8) Calf Raises (or Heel Raises) – Calf raises are great for warming up your feet, ankles, and calves.
How to do: Stand shoulder width apart and slowly get onto your tippy toes (or lift your heels up so that you’re on your toes). Then slowly lower yourself.
Okay, so those are the 8 dynamic stretches I do before I play.
Post-Game Stretches (Static Stretches)
The goal of post-play stretches is to cool down and lengthen your muscles to prevent tightness, soreness, and pain.
So, here are the static stretches I do after I play basketball (hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds):
- Chest Stretch – This stretches your chest, shoulders, and arms.
- Shoulder Stretch – This stretches your shoulders and triceps.
- Triceps Stretch – This stretches your triceps and some of the upper back.
- Front Hanging Stretch – This stretches the back of your legs and your lower back.
- Calf Stretch – This stretches your calves and feet.
- Quad Stretch – This stretches the upper front of your leg (or quadriceps).
- Lunge Stretch (or Hip Flexor Stretch) – This stretches your groin and hips.
- Seated Toe Touch – This stretches your hamstrings, calves, feet, lower back, and midsection.
- Thigh Hug – This stretches your butt, hamstrings, and groin.
Warming up and stretching are crucial for keeping your body healthy, regardless of age.
So, remember to spend time properly stretching before you play or you will pay.