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  • Writer's pictureEzara

3 Simple Stretches to Maintain Flexibility during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic: A main concern that I've been hearing over the last several weeks from my gymnasts comes from a flexibility standpoint. "I feel like I'm losing my flexibility-what do I do?" Here are 3 super simple stretches that I think will help "maintain" flexibility during this trying time. Do them every day.

With flexibility we want low load and long duration to see true tissue change. Meaning: don't add 10# ankle weights and hold for 15-20 seconds. Instead don't use ankle weight at all or make them light: 1-3# and hold for 60-120 seconds.

First stretch is for your shoulders. It address end range flexion, in a closed chain and weight bearing position. You can do this up against a wall, a tree or the side of your house. You should feel this along the outside of your shoulder to half way down the back-still along the outside. Make sure fingers are forward and the inside of the elbows are facing each other. This is a static stretch meaning hold it for 60 seconds, repeat 3x.

Once you have mastered the handstand in a tucked position, try a pike. It requires more stability and strength. Notice her correct position: fingers forward, elbows are in, head is in between her arms, back is flat, legs are straight and together, toes are pointed and ribs are in.

The second stretch is for your hip flexor. I have two different ways to do this. I want you to pick the stretch where you feel the most "discomfort" on the front of your hip only. That means no pain or sensations anywhere else. The first stretch is kneeling. Do not arch your back with this, instead press your hips forward. This is static, so hold for 60-120 seconds, repeat 3x on each leg.

The third stretch will have the gymnast laying on her stomach. I would prefer that they place a small pillow, rolled up sweatshirt or towel right above their knee (on their mid thigh) of the leg they are stretching. In the picture below it would go under his left knee. This allows you to "slack" the quad muscle and focus more on the hip flexor. Without the rolled up towel you are stretching more of the quad muscle. You can use a strap, belt, or long towel to assist the leg you are stretching. Again, static stretch, hold 60-120 seconds, repeat 3x on each leg.

This last stretch is for your gastrocnemius muscle aka, your calf muscle. With this stretch the toes need to be facing straight ahead (no out turn or in turn of the foot), the knee closest to the wall should move over the second toe and not dive inward simultaneously as the heel of the back leg pushes down into the floor. This is a static stretch, so hold 60-120 seconds, repeat 3x for each leg. You can also slightly bend the back leg and get your soleus muscle involved.

Bend your back leg to get your soleus muscle, still pressing the heel firmly into the ground.

Lastly it is always a good idea to keep up with your splits, make sure they are done on a line with hips square and no arching in your low back and toes pointed.

I hope these help! Feel free to message me with any questions.

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