how to stretch

How to Stretch and the Importance Of It

Here are some tips on how to stretch before and after basketball games, and why you should stretch often.

You ever wake up one day after playing some hoops and just feel horrible? Like your body is sore and tight, and you can’t move a single inch without feeling pain? I sure have.

When I was younger, I rarely felt sore. I would play basketball or run around outside all day and would feel fine the next. But as I got older, my body got tighter and I would get sore more often. It got to the point where it started to affect my posture.

I remember when I was in college, I would play pickup basketball 2 to 3 times a week. But every once in a while, my neck and shoulders would tighten up and I wouldn’t be able to move it in certain directions without feeling pain. It would take weeks to recover.

One night, I was just watching some basketball YouTube videos and came across this Time interview with Kobe Bryant. He was just giving some tips on how to play better basketball. You know, like the generic stuff –how to shoot, how to attack the basket, and such. But the last tip he gave was that every player needs to stretch.

Via Time:

“Stretch. You better stretch. My dad still plays basketball now and the hardest part isn’t actually playing, it’s getting up in the morning the next day. That’s the hardest part for him. You got to stretch.”

I took this to heart, mainly because I was in pain from not stretching enough. So I started to stretch before every game and it helped a lot. As I got older, I started stretching before and after every game. Now, I stretch every day even if I’m not playing basketball.

Why?

Because it improves my posture and prevents muscle tightness and pain. And, keeping it real, it just feels good to stretch!

Additionally, some stretches can improve your vertical.

So to all you players out there (especially the old guys), stretch. If you don’t know how to do it, there are two ways you can go about it. You can either do a full-body stretching sequence or you can do a yoga flow, like what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did throughout his career. This is also what the San Antonio Spurs’ David Robinson did throughout his career to prevent injuries.

Here are some examples:

Stretching Sequence

Okay, so there are two stretch sequences you should do. One is pre-game and one is post-game. For the pre-game, it is a dynamic stretch sequence and it goes like this:

(Via: https://liveathletics.com/live-athletics-blog/why-proper-stretching-may-actually-improve-performance/)
  1. Front Swings
  2. Side Cross Swings
  3. Plank Walk-Outs
  4. Lunge Torso Twists
  5. Hug Into Chest Expansion
  6. March and Reach
  7. Arm Push-Back
  8. Backfist Flings
  9. Front Leg Raise Toe Tap

You can follow the instructions on the image or warm-up until your body is, well, warm. I like to do around 10-20 reps of each stretch for one round and then finish off with a shoot-around.

The second sequence is the post-game:

(Via: https://www.darebee.com/workouts/fighters-stretching-workout.html)

For this set of stretches, I like to hold each for 10-20 seconds (like the image suggests). I also do a lot of these stretches (the top and bottom row) before I sleep every night.

Yoga Flow

For the yoga flow, you can pick any that you are comfortable or familiar with. But I’m going to share the simplest one, called “Sun Salutation.” The reason why I’m choosing this one is that it’s for beginners and it’s the one I do.

For this, you could do it for both pre and post-game. However, I like to switch things up. I tend to do this yoga flow for my pre-game stretch and then do the post-game sequence after the game.

Anyway, here’s the “Sun Salutation” flow:

READ MORE: The Steve Nash Basketball Workout

I cannot stress the importance of stretching enough. It prevents injuries, loosens your body so that you can move the next day, and can improve your posture. Not only that, it is a great way to get the blood flowing after hours of just sitting around.

So give these stretch sequences and yoga flow a try.