Joining the cheerleading squad in order to cheer for your school’s sports team may sound like a lot of fun, but it takes plenty of commitment to make a good performance on the big day—and plenty more if you intend to maintain it. In fact, a cheerleading squad works just as hard (if not harder) than the team that represents it. It takes beauty to raise the charisma of the squad, brains to be able to memorize all of the different actions that come in every performance, and finally, physical and emotional strength to be able to even perform such actions. These performances can range from relatively simple to downright ridiculous—but not impossible. This is why it is important to be able to stretch before either a cheerleading performance or practice.
Even simple actions that still take a bit of effort to perform can result in an unforeseen injury without limbering up. Even muscles that are already used to certain physical feats can still get stretched too far (even torn) if these muscles happen to be cold and stiff when it is performed. These injuries might even have a permanent effect on your cheerleading career. So if you wish to know how you can avoid such disasters, this article offers a simple step-by-step process below which you can follow in order to be able to stretch thoroughly before cheerleading:
Limber up with a simple exercise for around ten to fifteen minutes first. Attempting to stretch with stiff muscles will only leave you worse for wear, so it is important to start with an exercise that warms your body up before stretching. Some good examples would be shadow boxing or jogging (the latter warming you up quicker).
Once you have properly warmed up, you can start stretching from your neck downwards. Use a rolling and circular motion with your head so that you can properly stretch your neck. This is very important, because over-stretching a stiff muscle here could prove to be worse than if you hurt other areas.
From there, you can go on to your shoulders, and then your core muscles. Stretching your arms forward—and then upward, whilst leaning (though not pushing too hard) either left or right is the best kind of exercise to stretch these muscles. It helps if you tie up the fingers of both your hands while you do this. Your core muscles will get a good stretching if you try the plank maneuver (resting on your forearms and toes, while keeping your back straight).
Last but not least, give the legs a good stretch. You can experiment a little with your legs, as you can stretch however you want (but do not push when you feel too much tension). You can even try to kick a couple of times; though once again, do not push too hard.
On a closing note, you need to remember to do this all the time, not just before every practice but as you get out of bed. You will be able to avoid many, many injuries if you follow the steps above.