5 Stretches for Baseball and Softball
Pregame moves that will help you shine on the diamond.
It’s playoff time in the big leagues, but recreation leagues give all of us the opportunity to play ball. As your season winds down or you head into the playoffs, here are five stretches you can do to make sure your team can count on you in the clutch.
Joe Hoffer, athletic trainer at the University of Alabama, recommends a light jog before you start stretching. “You want to make sure you are properly warmed up,” Hoffer says. “You know you’re ready for stretching when the body starts sweating.”
Leg swings: Jarrod Jordan, former program designer at BlueStreak, an athletic training facility in the New York area, recommends starting off with leg swings.
- Standing straight, hold onto a nearby fence or railing and slowly kick your right leg out in front of you.
- Allow gravity to bring your leg back down. This will engage your hamstrings.
- Alternate between your right and left legs for a total of 20 with each leg.
- Now do side kicks across your body. “Go as far as the muscles feel they can go,” advises Jordan. “Slowly but surely, you will be able to kick higher and wider.”
“These are a great way to stretch and work the rotator cuffs,” advises Michael Lombardi, executive director of The Baseball Center NYC.
- Stretch your arms out to shoulder height palms facing up. Begin to make little circles with your arms, and gradually allow the circles to get bigger. Alternate between circles rotating forward and circles rotating backward, going in each direction for about 15 seconds at a time.
Playing baseball can cause lower-back problems due to the twisting motion of swinging the bat. Rotational twists loosen up your lower back and stretch your torso.
Hamstring and quad stretches:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. Twist your torso to one side, keeping your legs and knees facing forward.
- Alternate between your right and left sides.
- You can also use a baseball bat for this stretch. Place the bat over your shoulders — almost as if you are holding a barbell to do squats — and put one hand on the handle and the other on the head of the bat.
- Lie on your back with your legs flat against the ground.
- Lift one leg into the air so it forms a 90-degree angle with the ground.
- Interlock your hands beneath the raised thigh and gently pull your leg toward your chest. Try to keep both legs straight.
- Alternate between left and right legs. Try to do five sets of 15-to-30-second holds.
“Because there is so much lateral movement in baseball, you should always stretch the groin to prevent injuries,” says Lombardi.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Crouch like a catcher, with your knees bent. Allow the space between your knees to widen.
- With your arms inside your legs, grab your ankles and use your elbows to push your knees farther away from your body.
- For an even better stretch, lift your heels off the ground.