Three Stretches Every Weightlifter Should Know

We can all agree that routine stretching of the muscles is important to the overall health of any athlete. With the constant grind of heavy weights, Olympic lifting takes a serious toll of your body and as a result it's important to keep your joints mobile and muscles flexible. Through the California Strength Blog, we have built a library of stretches to help with and maintain the overall health of our Olympic weightlifting athletes and have put together the TOP THREE stretches that every weightlifter should implement on a daily basis.

Wrist

This inner wrist stretch was first discussed in a blog post back in December 2016. The wrists are an area of the body that often get overlooked when warming up for a weightlifting session. If you think about it, mobile and strong wrists are critically important for pain free Snatching, Cleaning and Jerking.

Not only will every overhead movement benefit from having more mobile wrists but it will also improve your front rack position, which can be the difference between a made and a missed lift! Strong and mobile wrists provide support all the way up the chain from forearm to shoulder, which in turn lessens your chance of an injury.  See the full article HERE.


Calves And Ankles

The calves and ankles are another area that you should pay special attention too before putting a barbell in your hands. They are often traded for the more popular hamstrings and hips, but this is a critical mistake that can hold back your athletic performance. Mobile and flexible calves and ankles serve as the base for bottom position stability in your Clean, Snatch and Squat.

When completing the movement, it's best to use a box or a door way as pictured. Make sure to check your hip alignment, ensuring that they are parallel to the wall or box in front of you. Don’t worry if at first it doesn’t seem that your knee is getting closer to the box, it is the intention that creates the stretch and will deepen the more you practice. See the full article HERE.


Hamstrings

If you're following any of California Strength's Olympic weightlifting programs, your hamstrings are under a constant load. By taking a few extra minutes to focus on your hamstrings, you will ease the soreness from prior training sessions and increase your mobility as the same time. My favorite hamstring stretch is the Seated Forward Fold described and demonstrated below. Use a firm strap to assist with increasing the stretch.

Seated Forward Fold

  • Come to a seated position with your legs pressed evenly on the mat, from your hamstrings down to your heels.
  • Wrap the strap around the middle of your feet, holding either side of the strap with your hands.
  • On the inhale, stop and check your form. You should be seated in an L position with your back straight, belly tucked up toward spine, shoulders even, not hunched forward or excessively back.
  • On the exhale, hinge from the hip while maintaining a straight spine as you begin to fold forward. Use the strap to gently increase the fold.
  • If you can touch your feet, while still maintaining good form with your back and legs, then you are encouraged to release the strap and place your hands around your feet. If not, do not release the strap, this is where you stay for the duration of the stretch.
  • With each inhale, think straight spine. With each exhale, deepen the fold. Be careful to not let your back or shoulders cave or fall forward. Maintaining proper form allows you to increase the stretch in the belly of the hamstring, where all the magic happens.
  • Hold for 1 – 2 minutes furthering the fold on each exhale.

Notes

If you feel any pain behind the knees, you can release the pressure with a microbend at the knee. Do not worry about how far you fold, instead concentrate on your form to provide the most effective stretch in the belly of the hamstrings.


Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.

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