United States Sports Academy
America's Sports University®

The Sport Digest - ISSN: 1558-6448

Flexibility Program for Sprinters

This flexibility program is for all sprinters alike. Whether it is short distance or longer distance, this program can be tapered to your specific needs and expectations so that you can get the most out of it as possible. I have devised this program to work with both high school and college athletes. Obviously, certain things can be tapered since athletes in college and high school are such a broad spectrum, and also because the talent and differences in levels will also be a factor.

Stretching is of huge benefit as it can with proper stretching can bring increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. All three of these are important for sprinters to have. Stretching and gaining flexibility can also be a preventative measure against becoming injured. The benefits for sprinters are tremendous. Hurdlers also could fall under this category. As a hurdler you obviously need a certain extent of flexibility to be able to run fast and still drive your lead leg and whip your trail leg over a forty-two inch tall hurdle at very high speeds. When stretching, it is obviously important to remember to not overstretch so as to hurt or pull a muscle. (Reed, 2007)

When stretching to increase flexibility and range of motion it is important to be consistent and do it often in order to really receive benefit from it. Stretching before and after workouts or even before or after warm-ups are things that are quite common and have most often been proven effective. Stretching should also be done in a comfortable environment to increase blood flow and flexibility. If it is cold outside, you are then encouraged to stretch indoors, because muscles are that much more taught when the weather is a little bit chilly.

These stretches should be done for about fifteen to twenty seconds, depending on how the muscles are reacting to your stretches. If your muscles are sore, it is important to not over due it and certainly to stop if in pain. It is also important to not bounce as you stretch, it should be one smooth fluid motion with little movement after the initial surge. These next ten stretches are common to sprinters and aid in the improvement of flexibility. These can be used pre-run or workout, but you will see the most progress when doing these post run. These also aid in the getting rid of lactic acid build up in your muscles as well.

1. Legs and calves
With your feet shoulder width apart and pointed out to about a 15ยบ angle, heels on the ground, bend your knees and squat down; if you have trouble staying in this position hold onto something for support (such as a wall or partner). This is a great stretch for your ankles, Achilles tendons, groin, lower back and hips. Hold stretch for up to 30 seconds. Be careful if you have knee problems. If pain is a result of this stretch, stop this stretch immediately.

2. Lower body stretch
Rotate your ankle clockwise and counter-clockwise through a complete range of motion with slight resistance provided by your hand. Rotary motion of the ankle helps to gently stretch tight ligaments. Repeat 10-20 times in each direction. Do both ankles. (Atlas, 2008)

3. Legs, feet and ankles
Slowly pull your toes back toward your shin until you can go no further, then stop and hold the foot flexed. Next, slowly bend at the thigh joints until you feel a stretch in the back of the lower leg. Hold this stretch for approximately 10-15 seconds as you keep the foot flexed. This is an excellent stretch for the rear of the lower leg. (Lilley, 2008)

4. Lower leg
Straighten out your arms and legs. Point your fingers and toes as you stretch as far as you can. Stretch and then relax. This is a good stretch for the entire body. Hold for 5 seconds. (Unknown, 2008)

5. Full Body Stretch
This is a very easy stretch which you can do lying on your back. This stretch is beneficial because it stretches a body area which is generally hard to relax. Relax, with knees bent and soles of your feet together. This comfortable position will stretch your groin. Hold for 30 seconds. Let the pull of gravity do the stretching.

6. Back and groin
From the bent knee position, interlace your fingers behind your head and lift the left leg over the right leg. From here, use your left leg to pull your right leg toward the floor until you feel a good stretch along the side of your hip and lower back. Stretch and relax. Keep the upper back, shoulders, and elbows flat on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat stretch for other side.

7. Back and hips
The last stretch is a simple one for your triceps and tops of your shoulders. With arms overhead, hold the elbow of one arm with the hand of the other arm. Next, gently pull the elbow behind the head, creating a stretch. Do it slowly. Hold for 15 seconds. Do not use drastic force to limber up. Stretch both sides. This is a good way to begin loosening up your arms and shoulders. You can do this stretch while walking.

8. Lower back and hamstrings
To stretch your calf, stand a little ways from a solid support and lean on it with
your forearms, your head resting on your hands. Bend one leg and place your foot on the ground in front of you, leaving the other leg straight behind you. Slowly
move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the calf of your straight leg. Be
sure to keep the heel of the foot of the straight leg on the ground and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold an easy stretch for 30 seconds. Do not bounce. Stretch other leg. (Atlas, 2008)

9. Legs and hips
Sit with your right leg straight. Bend your left leg, cross your left foot over and rest it to the outside of your upper left thigh, just above the knee. During the stretch use the elbow to keep the leg stationary with controlled pressure to the inside. Now, with your left hand resting behind you, slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder, and at the same time rotate your upper body toward your left hand and arm. This should give you a stretch in your lower back and side of hip. Hold for 15 seconds. Do both sides. Don’t hold your breath; breathe easily. (Pribut, 2008)

10. Arms and shoulders
To stretch the quad and knee, hold the top of your right foot with your left hand and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. The knee bends at a natural angle when you hold your foot with the opposite hand. This is good to use in knee rehabilitation and
with problem knees. Hold for 30 seconds, each leg.

From my research and observation it is very easy to see that stretching can and when done properly does improve flexibility to a point. As a sprinter and hurdler I know this first hand and am able to cite specific examples throughout this whole paper. Being flexible is also a sign of being physically fit and active. These ten stretches are just a handful of the many that are out there.

Reed, M (Jan.30,2007). All Experts. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from All Experts Web site: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Football-Instruction-2069/running-40.htm

Unknown, (June 21, 2008). To Stretch or Not to Stretch. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Core Concepts Web site: http://mcr.coreconcepts.com.sg/to-stretch-or-not-to-stretch-before-an-event/

Lilley, E (2008). Stretching for Peak Performance. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Shape Fit Web site: http://www.shapefit.com/stretching-peak-performance.html

Atlas, J (2008). The Best Flexibility Stretches. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Optimum Flexiblility Web site: http://www.optimumflexibility.com/

Pribut, S (2008). Stretching. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Dr. Stephen M. Pribut’s Sport Pages Web site: http://www.drpribut.com/sports/spstretc.html