Imagine that you’re about to take home the win in a match of badminton when you feel a sharp cramp in your mid-thigh. Needless to say, you’ll have to stop and hand over the victory. In this scenario, it isn’t your skill that loses you the game — you just should’ve stretched!
Good stretches for badminton are those that warm up and lengthen the muscles involved in wielding the racket, moving laterally, and leaping. The best stretches for these muscle groups include the rotating wrist and forearm stretch and the shoulder stretch. For the lower body, you’ll want to grease the joints and muscles with stretches like forward lunges, hamstring stretches, and the glute and hip stretch. For extra suppleness in the lower back, you should also do toe touches and lower back stretches before playing badminton.
Your mind is probably bending with questions about these stretches. Allow me to play yogi for once, and join me as I walk you through these excellent stretches for badminton players!
Rotating Wrist and Forearm Stretch
You need to prime your wrists and forearms if you’re going to flick your racket for hours on end. This is what the rotating wrist and forearm stretch is for. The rotating wrist and forearm stretch gets the blood flowing to the forearm muscles, warming them up. It also primes the ball-and-socket joints of your wrist to move circularly and laterally.
There are many ways to perform this stretch, but the most common method is to clasp your hands together, lace your fingers together, and rotate your wrists clockwise and counterclockwise.
The rotating wrist and forearm stretch mobilizes your wrists and warms up the forearms; since your fingers are interlaced. The lacing of the fingers activates the tensors of the forearms, contracting them to improve circulation and tone.
You might not be pressing a loaded barbell, but the shoulders and the muscles surrounding the shoulders will take a beating during a game of badminton. Keep the chiro away with a good shoulder stretch!
There are four common ways to stretch your shoulders, according to Harvard Medical School. An easy but effective way to do it is to hold your shoulder with one hand, then pull the elbow with your free hand until the elbow is directly under your chin or past it. Do not twist in the direction that you pull your arm in.
The shoulder stretch loosens up the muscles of the shoulder girdle by stretching the muscles near it. In other words, the shoulder stretch lengthens the latissimus dorsi and trapezius. Stretching these muscles will make them less tense, allowing the shoulders to rotate freely along their natural axis of movement.
This is an excellent stretch for badminton players or for anyone who spends hours at their desk. The forward lunge loosens up and strengthens the muscles of the hips.
The forward lunge is so amazing at improving the range of motion of the hips that it’s hard to believe how simple it is. All you need to do is stand upright and bring one leg as far forward as you can. Do this while keeping the rear leg straight, as bending the rear leg will render the stretch ineffective. From here, hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Forward lunges release the tension built in your hip flexors — the muscles that allow you to walk, bend, and move your hips forward. Mainly targeting psoas muscles, forward lunges can also stretch the abductors to an extent depending on how far to the side your front leg goes.
The hamstrings need their fair share of stretching if you want to be more nimble on the court.
You need to lie on your back for hamstring stretches. Bring up one leg without bending the knee. To add passive resistance, you can pull on the back of your knee. You may also loop a strap on your feet and pull on that. The strap method is preferable since you’ll be stretching your calf as well.
Hamstring stretches lengthen the hamstrings, or the muscles in the rear of your legs. Hamstring stretches allow your legs to feel looser on the court and keep you away from injuries because of their beneficial effects on your knees and hips.
Glute and Hip Stretch
The hips are responsible for the range of motion of your legs as you leap laterally, while the glutes are the powerhouses for jumping up or springing forward. Since these are the muscles that will get you to the shuttlecock, you want them mobilized and loose. For this, there’s the glute and hip stretch.
Sit on the floor with both legs forward. Take one foot and place it over the opposite thigh. You’ll experience some resistance in your groin area; this is normal, but it’s also proof that you don’t do this stretch enough! Push down gently on the knee of the folded leg. Continue pushing to your tolerance. Once you’ve reached your threshold, stop pushing and hold the pressure for 10 to 20 seconds.
The glute and hip stretch improves the range of motion of the hips while relaxing the lateral aspects of the gluteal muscles. With these two effects, the glute and hip stretch is almost a one-stop-shop stretch for lower body mobility and flexibility.
Besides hamstring stretches, one other stretch is crucial to hamstring health — toe touches. Not being able to touch your toes isn’t just the result of a belly; it’s also a sign that you don’t stretch enough before your workouts or badminton games.
Toe touches are as simple as they sound — you try to touch your toes. However, to get the most out of this stretch, you’ll have to keep your legs straight. Bending at the knee eliminates the benefits of the exercise. You can do this stretch seated or standing; it’s all up to you. The benefits will be similar!
Toe touches are a must for every badminton athlete for loosening the hamstrings before action on the court. Besides stretching the hamstrings on both legs at the same time, the stretch also benefits the lower back and calf muscles.
Lower Back Stretches
Jumping and absorbing shock isn’t just the job of your non-marking badminton kicks. Your lower back bears the brunt of the shock whenever you land or decelerate, which means that your lower back needs some serious strengthening and stretching. When it comes to stretches, look no further than lower back stretches. Since the lower back involves many other joints and muscle groups, there are several kinds you can perform.
I’m going to give you one that develops both your core and your lower back stability. This lower back stretch is called the cat-cow stretch, and it’s promoted by renowned spine specialist, Dr. Stuart McGill. First, get on all fours. As you inhale, raise your head and allow your belly to drop slightly. Once you exhale, draw your chin closer. At the same time, try to arch your spine up. The sensation should be similar to when you’re doing a sit-up. Do this for 10 to 20 reps.
Lower back stretches decompress the sacrococcyx, leading to less pain and discomfort around the area. Some variations of lower back stretches also develop core stability, making your lower back less susceptible to injuries.
Bend Your Joints — not the Laws of Joint and Muscle Health
Now that you’re familiar with the best stretches for badminton, all you need to do is put them into practice. Add them to your pre-game workout, and you’ll find that it won’t be a stretch to get both excellent joint health and a win on the court!
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