Are you looking to become a better cheerleader? Wanting to increase your full range of motion strength and flexibility? Then look no further we have you covered. This article covers the physical demands of the sport, risks, and flexibility training and great stretches for cheerleading. Best of all you can follow along to all the recommended drills for the best stretching routine to increase your flexibility for Cheerleading.
Physiological Demands of Cheerleading:
What Does it Take To Become A Better Cheerleader?
Cheerleading Energy Systems
Cheerleading is a demanding sport that demands extreme flexibility, strength, primarily fueled by anaerobic pathways. The main energetic supply source of the sport is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is via the ATP-PCr and anaerobic glycolic energy systems, with a peak blood lactate (Lmax) above 4mL.
Muscles must generate high concentric and eccentric strength and have to capacity to produce forceful actions at high velocities.
Aerobic pathways have a typical maximal oxygen uptake at 50ml/kg/min over the past five years. V02 max profiles can reach up to 85% during competitive routines with an average heart rate at 185 beats per minute.
Complex Sensory Information Systems in Cheerleading
Cheerleaders need to embody the aptitude to process complex sensory information from the vestibular, visual and proprioceptive systems in order to maintain the body’s center or gravity over the base of support.
Factors that affect the level of stability needed is the postural control of the base size, center of gravity and number of limbs in contact with the apparatus.
Dangers in Cheerleading
Cheer has the highest rate of catastrophic injury and, two-thirds of catastrophic injuries in female athletes are from this sport alone. Needless to say a strong solid foundation needs to be built in technique, skill strength and flexibility.
Injury Prevention for Cheerleaders
Injury prevention measures include increasing cardiovascular fitness, promoting flexibility, and establishing a higher muscular fitness level in cheerleaders.
High risk areas should also receive extra training such as ankle and balance stability. You can find an ankle stability program here.
By arming your training regime with injury prevention methods for cheer will make you a better cheerleader and ensure that you are always sporting your best performance.
Testing that can be performed on cheerleaders for injury prevention are:
BESS – Balance error scoring system
Flexibility Demands For Cheerleaders
Cheerleading demands active flexibility in order to complete stunts. Active flexibility is the level of flexibility achieved by the body working actively without the use of gravity. A good example would be suspended splits vs splits on the floor.
While cheer demands active flexibility to increase your mobility you need to work on several facets of human biology such as joints, tendons, connective tissue, nerves and muscle.
Muscles, connective tissue and nerves all need to stretch differently in order to increase their flexibility there fore we need to approach them with different types of stretches such as passive stretching and nerve flossing.
Stretching Order Matters in Cheerleading
When approaching your stretching routine the order of stretches can make a significant difference. Especially when it comes to warming up for game day.
Dynamic stretching when performed first leads to an increase in performance and power.
While static stretching is performed first it results in decreased muscular performance, decreased height when doing a vertical jump and decreased performance during explosive movements.
The stretching routine for cheer should follow the below guideline.
- Dynamic Stretching
- Active Stretching
- Passive Stretching
You can read more about different stretching methods here.
Stretching Routine for Cheerleaders
Below is a stretching routine to increase your flexibility for cheerleading. I have listed the names of the stretches for a shorthand version of the program. Individual descriptions of each stretch will follow below the completed outline.
Cheer Pre Stretching Warm Up
Choose a few of the activities below or you can add your own too. Your warm up should take around 8 – 10 minutes. Especially if you are going to take on a long stretching session you want to make sure that all the major muscle groups have oxygen flowing to them.
Warm up Exercise List
You don’t need to complete all of the warm up items on the list. You want to ensure that you warm up for around 7-10 minutes. So pick a few and complete rounds until the time is up.
- Jumping Jacks
- Plank Jacks
- Skate sliders
- Explosive jumps one leg on chair jump
- Candlestick roll jumps
- Toe touches
Dynamic Stretches For Cheerleading
Complete 3 sets of 10
- T jumps
- Tuck jumps
- Left hurdlers
- Right hurdlers
- Pike Position Jumps
- Toe touches
Stretches for Cheerleading
Upper Body, Lower Body & Shoulder Flexibility for Cheerleading
- Shoulder rolls forward and back. 30 seconds each way.
- Shoulder flossing. 10 front to back. 10 side to side.
- Overhead block extensions 3 x 10
- Cobras Ribs on 3×10. Mid back cobras are also known as snake pose in contortion training. Perform a regular cobra pose except you will only continue to extend as far as you can with your ribs remaining on the mat.
- Cobras Lower Back. 3 x 10
- Kitty on wall straight
+ 10 minute Shoulder and Chest Routine Follow Along
Middle Split Straddle Stretches
- Supine middle split warm up kicks
- Middle split against the wall with blocks. Place the blocks under the foot and ankle area to increase the distance between the pelvis and floor.
- Wall straddles. If you are close to the wall place yoga blocks in front of the ankles and feet to increase the distance between your pelvis and wall.
- Over straddle with strap.
- Straddle lifts 3 x 10. To increase active hip flexor strength.
- Steam roll challenge. How many can you do?
Cheerleading Stretches for Active Hip Flexors
- Quadriped Kicks
- Front Splits Bind and Balance
- Leg Holds To Failure
- Back Bending Lunges
- 6 O’clock Split Leg Lifts 3 x 10
- Banded Supine Needles
- Front Kicks
- Front Split Tick Tocs
Cheerleading Stretches to Improve your heel stretch
- Pilates Ball Series 1
- Front Leg Over Splits
- Seated Leg Extensions Behind Shoulder
- Front Split Holds and Back Leg Taps
If your IT band is a major restrictor in your flexibility practice then check out these 5 stretches for ITB syndrome.
Cheerleading Cool Down: Static Stretches
Cooling down is an important part of your training session to get the body moving into recovery and rest mode. Simple long slow stretches help increase your passive flexibility while the body cools down.
I always like to include in my cool down any particular areas my body is feeling restricted as well as goal poses such as splits. Here are a few of my favorite’s:
Prescription 60 seconds or longer
- Split Holds Front and Middle
- Plow Pose
- Wide Leg Diamond 60 seconds
- Pigeon Pose 60 seconds
- Lengthen those quads with the following stretches
- Middle split side stretch
- Shoulder rolls forward and back. 30 seconds each way.
Until next time stay limber!
Leave me a comment below on how you found these drills and stretches.
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