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What muscles should I stretch before and after a basketball game?

Mike Elliott
Fitness

Pre and post competition stretching should be a part of every basketball player's routine.  The foam roller is a great tool for before and after, as outlined by NASM.  Post-game streching is a time for the more traditional and stationary static stretching where one fouses on a single muscle and holds a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds - Casey Smith gives a great explanation of that.  I would add that your pre game and practice stretching needs to be as active as possible.  By this, I mean that you should be moving as much as possible and 'working' to get ready for competition.    Examples of these stretching exercises include lunges (front, side, and rotating), squat with a calf raise, and single leg squat.  Such stretches activate muscles like the glutes, and take stress off of muscles like the hamstrings and hip flexors and prepare you for the movements you will be making in practice and games.  Following this routine of foam rolling pre and post competition, an active stretch incorporating movement prior to performance, and a static strech post practice or game will help you feel at your best during competition and the next day, and it will also decrease your chances of injury.

Casey Smith
Sports Medicine
As an adjunct to the answer provided by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, I like to pay specific attention to post game/practice stretching of the IT band, the hip flexors and the gluteal muscles.  Many of the movement patterns associated with basketball are with the hips in an open position and the lower extremity externally rotated.  In my experience, I see these movement patterns as contributing factors to IT band, hip flexor and gluteal tightness.  As mentioned, foam rolling these areas at points that are tender to pressure followed by prolonged static stretching can lead to excellent flexibility gains.  One important thing to keep in mind is that these muscles are best stretched while the core temperature is elevated, so prior to completely cooling down.
Basketball players are prone to tight calves, hips, and lats (latissimus dorsi).  Start your flexibility program by applying a foam roll (a self-massage technique used to alleviate knots in your muscles) to the tender areas in your calves, side of your thighs, and upper back.  Hold each tender area for at least 30 seconds, or until the tension subsides.  After foam rolling, perform a chest stretch using a doorway, a kneeling hip flexor stretch, and a standing calf stretch.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.