It’s All In The Shoulder, The Hips and Hamstrings, And The Back
Perhaps the easiest way to improve in cheerleading is to simply improve your flexibility. And, as you can easily improve your flexibility with some static stretching, it’s important to know what areas to stretch and what stretches to perform. So, to build your flexibility for cheerleading, start by warming up a bit, then focus on:
For bases, shoulder flexibility is key to overhead stunts. For tumbling, the shoulders come into play when you reach during back handsprings and running tumbling. Therefore, to increase the flexibility in your shoulders, stretch them out by placing your arm across your chest horizontally, placing your other arm across it vertically, and then pushing in with your vertical arm to gently stretch your shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds then switch arms. Other shoulder stretching methods include holding your arms straight up, bending your elbows to clasp your hand behind your head, and then pushing behind you. You can even simply clasp your hands palms-out behind your back and lift your arms upward.
Hips And Hamstrings
Flexible hips and hamstrings will come in handy when performing jumps, tumbling, and complicated dance maneuvers. Start with a runner’s lunge by extending one leg in front of you and bending it at a 90° angle. Hold that position for about 20 seconds while stabilizing yourself with your opposite leg stretched behind you and your opposite hand on the ground, then switch sides and repeat. To stretch your hamstrings, extend one leg out, gently bend your opposite leg, place your hands on your extended leg to brace yourself, and slowly lean over until your torso is parallel to the ground. Hold that position for 20 seconds and then switch sides. Follow that with a straddle sit where you extend both legs out as you sit on the ground and brace your body with your hands on the ground. Splits or the middle split are also good stretches to improve your hip and hamstring flexibility.
Strong, flexible back muscles are key for top person body positions, tumbling, and general stretching techniques. To stretch your back, do a pike sit where you sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you with your feet together. Lean forward so your torso is parallel to your legs and extend each hand to touch the sides of your feet. Hold that position for about 20 seconds. From the pike sit position, do a sitting twist by laying one leg out straight in front of you and crossing the other leg over it with the knee bent and foot on the ground by the knee. Then twist your torso around opposite of your flat leg, brace yourself with your arm, and hold. The last good stretch for back flexibility is the bridge, where you lean over backwards and hold your position in an inverted U or bridge, with your feet on the ground in front of you and your hands on the ground behind you.
Improving your flexibility for cheerleading is as easy as adding a few more stretches to your workout routine. Just be sure to be warmed up beforehand, focus on your form, and don’t overextend. Focus on your shoulders, hips and hamstrings, and back, and you’ll see your flexibility – and your cheerleading abilities – get better every day.
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