If you are a basketball fan, you know how exciting -- and physical -- the sport can be. According to Bryce Compton, an athletic trainer at the Human Motion Institute, basketball injuries to the upper extremities are often caused by muscular imbalances in your arms. Correcting these imbalances through proper stretching can keep you injury-free and on the court.
Dynamic Vs. Static
While warming up for basketball, you should incorporate different methods of stretching to achieve different results. Dynamic stretching involves moving your body through a continuous range of motion, without holding a stretched muscle at any time. Static stretching involves pulling any of your body parts to a point where you feel a slight muscle stretch, and holding that position. A 2008 study in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" found that incorporating dynamic stretching before exercise resulted in increased strength and speed when compared to static stretching. The American Council on Exercise recommends static stretching after your bout of exercise in order to safely increase your flexibility.
Warm Up With Circles
Arm circles will warm up the muscles in your arms and prepare them to be stretched. Stand tall with good posture and your arms straight out to your sides. Start making very small clockwise circle motions from your shoulders. Slowly make bigger circles, and after 10 repetitions, reverse the direction of your circles to go counter clockwise. Repeat three sets of clockwise and counter clockwise circles, increasing the size of your circles each set.
Don't Shrug Off Shoulders
The ability to reach very far across your body is vital to be successful at stealing balls or executing a cross-over dribble. Tight shoulders can limit your range of motion, decreasing your effectiveness on the court. Mike Reinold, a physical therapist who specializes in sport injuries, prefers the horizontal adduction -- cross body -- stretch to safely increase your shoulder's range of motion. To perform the cross body stretch, place your right hand on your left shoulder. Keeping your right arm relaxed, pull your right elbow to bring your arm further across your body. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each arm.
Your triceps muscles create the force to extend your elbow to shoot a basketball. Repetitive elbow extension can make your triceps very tight, so it is important to stretch them on a regular basis. To stretch your triceps, reach you right hand over your shoulder so your hand is touching your spine. Use your left hand to push your elbow back to feel more of a stretch on the underside of your arm. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each arm.
Your forearm muscles play a very important role on the basketball court. Flexible forearms are needed to flick your wrist while shooting, giving the ball backspin and arc. To stretch your forearm flexor muscles, stand tall with your right arm straight in front of you with your palm facing forward and your fingers toward the ceiling. Grab your fingers with your left hand and pull back toward your body until you feel a stretch on the underside of your forearm. To stretch your forearm extensor muscles, position your arm in the same way, but with your fingers hanging toward the floor. Pull your fingers down and toward your body until you feel a stretch on the top of your forearm. Hold each of these stretches for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each arm.