Going around the gym if you asked every athlete what their biggest weakness is they would probably reply with some technical, strength or gymnastics element. In contrast if you asked us coaches what we feel is the biggest weakness in our athletes we would unanimously say flexibility. For the vast majority of our population poor flexibility is a serious issue that will not improve without implementing some type of plan, however basic it may be. The following is one such plan. It is basic, short, and therefore accessible to all of our athletes. Include it into your schedule every other day and you will be guaranteed to see some level of return.
Shoulders and Thoracic Spine
For the shoulder stretch simply grab onto a door frame with your hand behind your back and your thumb pointed upwards. Step away from the door keeping your chest up and shoulders back until you feel a stretch on the front of the shoulders. Hold for 20-30 seconds each side.
On the thoracic stretch both hands will grab onto the door with the feet positioned back and under the hips. Drop the chest down and continue to add downward pressure until you feel a stretch in the middle back. Again hold for 30 seconds.
Hips and Hamstrings
For our hips we are going with the couch stretch. Place the top of the foot against the door frame behind the hip and push the hips forward while simultaneously lifting the chest, until you start to feel a stretch on the front of the bent leg. Repeat each side for 20-30 second holds.
Our final stretch, for the hamstrings, requires you to lie on the floor and, while keeping the hips in contact with the floor, the working leg is brought to full extension above the hips and placed against the door frame. Press the hips down and the back of the knee to the door frame until you feel a stretch on the hamstrings. Repeat each side for 20-30 seconds.
The above are very basic flexibility exercises but are more than a lot of us are currently doing. All of the above exercises can performed at home. Performing 2-3 rounds of the above routine every day should help to greatly improve your flexibility and in turn improve your basic movement patterns in class.