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A Pre- and Post-Game Routine for Basketball Players

For many, March is synonymous with basketball. With 67 games played, how could it not be?

But whether you’re a longtime starter or simply inspired by March Madness to round up a few friends and hit the court for a game, it’s important to properly stretch to ward off any aches, pains, sprains, and strains that may arise.

BEFORE PLAYING: A DYNAMIC WARM UP

Warming up jump starts your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles, preparing your body for aerobic activity. It can also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury. All in all, you’ll want to allot about 30 minutes for a proper warm-up.

For optimal results, start right before beginning your workout and perform activities that closely mimic what you’ll be doing on the court. Since basketball involves running, spend 5-10 minutes briskly walking or jogging, slowly increasing speed and/or intensity as you go. By the time you’re finished, you may be sweating lightly, but you shouldn’t be fatigued.

Then, it’s time to move on to stretching + calisthenics. Again, you’ll ideally want to do exercises that mimic movements you’ll make on the court, performing them with high intensity, but allowing for ample recovery time to ensure you are not fatigued before your game. Some of our favorites include:

  • Jump Squats: Stand with your body facing forward and your feet parallel, shoulder width apart, and toes pointed slightly outward. Lower yourself into a normal squat position with your chest lifted and hands in front. Jump dynamically upward, simultaneously pushing arms towards the ground in a slicing motion. Land softly on your feet and repeat. (Note: As with traditional squats, be sure not to extend your knees over your toes.)
  • Lateral Skater Jumps: With your feet close together, softly bend at the waist, knees, and arms. Push off your left foot, jumping laterally and landing on your right foot, letting the left leg naturally swing behind the right. Without resting, reverse the motion, landing on your left foot. Be sure to perform equal reps on each leg, keeping your center of gravity over the foot on the ground.
  • Pushups: Start facing down in plank position with hands just outside of shoulders and arms fully extended. Feet should be up on toes, and the body should be straight. Lower your body down to just above the floor by bending the elbows, taking care to keep your body straight and not bend at the waist. Raise your body back up to starting position and repeat.

Looking for a more comprehensive warm-up plan that’s specific to your body, your needs, and your goals? Get in touch with one of our PT partners – they can help you identify any potential areas of concern and work with you to improve performance.

AFTER PLAYING: COOLING DOWN

As you did before you began playing, you’ll want to spend about 5 minutes briskly walking or jogging, gradually bringing down your heart rate and regulating blood flow. Before your muscles have cooled completely, spend a few minutes on static stretches, holding each stretch for 30-60 seconds on each side.

  • Hamstring Stretch: Lie flat on your back on the ground. Lift one leg in the air, bringing it perpendicular to the ground with your foot flexed. If necessary, use your hands or a towel behind your thigh for support. Switch sides.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Place one knee on the ground directly underneath you. Bring the opposite foot flat on the ground out in front of you, with your knee over toe. Tuck your hips, gently pushing them forward while taking care not to arch your back. Switch sides.
  • Quad Stretch: Stand on one leg, balancing against something stationary, if helpful. Pull the heel of your other leg up behind you to meet your glute, taking care to keep good posture. Switch sides.
  • Shoulder Stretch: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and a soft bend in the knees. Bring your arm across your chest, parallel with the ground. Let the other arm come up, holding it at the forearm and easing it closer to the chest. Switch sides.

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