Stretching– It’s Important!
Athletes all over the world do two things before participating in their sport: warm up and stretch. They do so for two important reasons: to avoid injury and to ensure their body is ready for the athletic activity in which they are going to participate.Football players, basketball players, soccer players, tennis players—they all warm up and stretch before they play. Like other sports Racquetball is tough on the body. With all the running, twisting, and turning involved in racquetball, not to mention the hitting of the ball, if players have not properly warmed up and stretched before play they run the risk of injury. With this in mind, all who play racquetball should warm up and stretch before playing.
Most players -at least those I have observed- do some kind of stretching before they step on to the court. On the other hand, I have also noticed that some players do not stretch at all. Unfortunately, these players are, of course, more prone to injury; i.e. pulled or torn muscle, ligament or tendon injury, etc. These ‘non-stretchers’ are easily identifiable. They tend to walk from their car directly to the court and start playing—no warming up and no stretching. The most limbering up they do is bending over to get a racquet out of their bag. Then they just walk on to the court and start playing. And it scares me to see that. It should scare them!
As people age, their muscles tighten and range of motion in the joints can be minimized.This can put a damper on active lifestyles and even hinder day-to-day, normal motions. Tasks that used to be simple, such as zipping up a dress or reaching for a can off of the top shelf, now become extremely difficult. And with the demands that racquetball places on the body, the less stretching one does the more difficult playing year after year becomes. A regular stretching program can help lengthen muscles, make one less prone to injury when playing racquetball or other sports, and make daily living activities easier.
Everyone can learn to stretch, regardless of age or flexibility. Stretching should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, whether he exercises or not. There are simple stretches that can be done while watching TV, on the computer, or getting ready for bed. If one is doing strength training exercises, stretching in between sets helps a great deal. And it not only feels good, but it also saves time from stretching at the end of the workout.
It does not have to involve a huge time commitment, but stretching can provide huge results! Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from a regular stretching program:
Reduced muscle tension
Increased range of movement in the joints
Enhanced muscular coordination
Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
Stretching is important for people of all ages and all skill levels! One of the greatest benefits of stretching is that the more frequently one stretches the greater the increase in range of motion. This means limbs and joints can move further before an injury may occur. In racquetball this is very important! Anyone who has played racquetball has reached out to strike the ball. And we have all felt twinges here and there whenever we have had to stretch out to our limit to hit a ball. Stretching – a routine stretching program – will allow players to reach further. Again, as great a sport that racquetball is, it is really tough on the body, so much so that those who are reading this knows someone who has been injured playing racquetball.
Post-exercise stretching – stretching after you have played racquetball- can also aid in workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and ensure that your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are in good working order. After all, it only makes sense that the more conditioned your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they’ll become injured.
One last thing about stretching is that after a while it comes naturally to all of us. Some of us may have noticed that after having been sitting in a particular position for a long time, we stretch unconsciously. It feels good! In addition to that good feeling, a consistent stretching program will produce large gains in flexibility and joint movement.
When it comes to taking good care of ourselves a good slogan to live by is,
‘Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you!’
U.S. Open Singles and Doubles Champion
U.S. National Singles and Doubles Champion
U.S. National Masters Single and Doubles Champion
World Singles Racquetball Champion
French Open, Irish Open and Dutch Open Singles Champion
Every athlete stretches!