Improve Flexibility – Home Stretching

One of the most important, but also most overlooked aspects of gymnastics classes is stretching. Kids don’t generally like to stretch because it can be boring and sometimes hurt, but it is vital to stretch so you protect your body. In our classes, we devote about 10 minutes to stretching and making sure your body is prepared for gymnastics; however you should also stretch at home. Stretching at home will make stretching at the gym easier, and help you progress faster in your gymnastics. You should take about 10 minutes each day to stretch. Here are some stretches you can do at home.

Toe touches in pike
Standing with feet together, bend at the waist and reach down to touch your toes keeping legs straight. Hold for 30 seconds.

Toe touch in straddle
Standing with legs just slightly more than shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist and reach for the floor. Then, walk hands to each foot. Hold on each side for 15 seconds.

Pike Stretch
Sitting on the ground. Stretch legs completely straight and together in front of you. Reach forward for your toes, keeping your head in a neutral position. Work toward getting your chest down on your legs with legs completely straight. Hold for 30 seconds.

Butterflys
Sitting on the floor, bring feet together sole to sole, and hold your feet. Move knees up and down to stretch hips. Push knees down with hands or elbows. Hold for 15 seconds. Bring head to feet to enhance hip stretch and stretch lower back. Hold for 15 seconds

Straddle Stretch
Sitting on the floor, open legs wide making sure hips stay neutral and don’t roll forward. With arms stretched out to the side reach one arm over your head to the opposite foot, keeping belly button facing forward. Hold for 10 seconds on each side. Then turn and bring chest/belly down toward your leg. Finally, keeping hips and knees open and up stretch forward toward the middle aiming to get your chest on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds.

Splits
For right and left leg – Start on your knees, put one leg straight in front of you making sure your hips are square and back knee is completely underneath you. Slide front leg forward as far as you can, keeping one hand on each side of your leg for stability and squareness. Hold on each leg for at least 30 seconds.
For Middle Split – start on elbows and knees. Bring legs out to sides in a straddle position with hips/bottom up in the air. Keep hips and feet in a straight line. Slide feet out as far as possible, staying on elbows. Hold for at least 30 seconds.
Shoulder Stretches
Bring on arm straight across your chest grabbing elbow with the other hand pulling gently toward your chest hold for 10 seconds on each side.
Hold arm straight up, slightly behind your head and ear. Grab elbow with other hand, and bend. Place hand on the middle of your upper back, pull elbow gently. Hold for 10 seconds on each side.

Bridge
Please note, before attempting the bridge, please make sure you have the requisite strength and have completed the skill/stretch at the gym with proper supervision. If you are comfortable attempting this at home, lay on your back, bend arms keeping elbows right by your ears and pressing hands into the floor. At the same time, bend your knees and press feet into the floor. Push your stomach and chest up while opening your shoulders and hips. Hold for 10 seconds. Come down gently protecting your neck.

Hamstring Stretches
Sitting on the floor, start in a small straddle position, bring one foot in to your thigh and keep other leg straight. Flex your foot up and reach down to grasp your foot. Pull up gently on your foot keeping leg straight. Repeat on other leg. Hold for 15 seconds on each leg.

Quad Stretches
Standing up, holding a chair or wall for balance, bend one leg behind you keeping knees in line with each other. Grasp bent leg foot with the same side hand. Push hips open, pulling bent leg gently. Keep hips square.
Stretching everyday will not only improve your gymnastics, you will help lower your risk of injury, help improve your range of motion in your joints, help your muscles work more efficiently, and even improve your mood because stretching helps increase blood flow and decrease tension in your body! Let us know what your favorite stretches are!

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