Being a serious athlete is a 24/7 job. For those serious student-athletes, here are are few exercises that can easily be done in class to continue striving for your athletic goals.
Ankle Stretches: Dorsi and Planter Flexion
Dorsi flexion - pulling toes towards up. This stretches the Achilles tendon.
Planter Flexion - pointing toes away. Stretches muscles in the shin.
You can hold each position for 30 seconds 2-4 times per day. Pulling toes up into Dorsi flexion strengthens muscles around the shin and can be key in preventing shin splints. Ankle flexibility can reduce chance of injury and improve ground reaction forces to improve foot speed.
Working the top third of the leg extension works the vastus medialis: This is the “teardrop” on the inside part of the leg above the knee.
Improving VM strength is important in female athlete and reduces risk of ACL tears. Athletes are encouraged to repeat this motion in the weight room on the leg extension machine. Do 10-30 reps 2-3 times per day.
Ankel Eversion and Inversion
Eversion - rolling the ankle inside
Inversion - rolling the ankle outside
Improving ankle flexibility can reduce the risk of ankle sprains, shin splints, and knee related pain.
Breathing and Posture
Strong core muscles are needed to hold proper posture. Elite athletes have tremendously strong cores. Practicing holding good posture while sitting will make it easier to engage the core during moment in sports. Roll shoulder blades back and down, hold chin even with the floor, tilt pelvis backward slightly elongated the spine, and flex abdominals.
You will be surprised at how many athletes breath with the wrong muscles. Athletes that take short shallow breaths are using upper back and neck muscles to breath. If you find yourself holding your shoulders up by your ears, you are breathing shallow. While practicing good posture, relax your tongue, and feel your rib cage and belly expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale. Practice deep, proper breathing as often as possible.
This one should be obvious. Hydration is an important component to in performance. Athletes should be drinking 100 oz of water or more per day.
When changing directions, athletes are taught to lead with their chin. Improving neck flexibility can improve agility of athletes. There are 6 directions to stretch your neck.
Side bending Left and Right - lower ear towards shoulder.
Twisting Left and Right - turn chin over each shoulder.
Flexion - tuck chin on chest.
Extension - Lift chin upward.