Freeflying is a physically demanding sport (as are other disciplines in skydiving) and like any physical activity it is much easier to damage your body if you do not prepare your body properly. Stretching helps prepare your body for the physical activity it is about to go through, by offering some of the following benefits:
- Relaxes your body (which is always good in freeflying)
- Helps your coordination and allows for easier movement
- Gives you a greater range of motion
- Increases your body awareness
- Improves circulation so if you do damage your body it will repair quicker
A lot of freeflyers seem to think stretching takes a long time and that it isn’t important. It is very important and if you plan on jumping for a long time then stretching is the way to allow you to keep on jumping as you get older.
Stretching can take a long time but it can also be a short 10 minutes in the morning. The following is a short and basic stretching routine to help you prepare yourself in the morning. This doesn’t mean you should only do this in the morning when you go jumping, try to do this every morning, it only takes 10 minutes.
Guidelines for stretching
If you do not stretch right you can damage your body just as bad as if you do not stretch. Some people think that stretching should be painful, this is wrong. You should feel comfortable in your stretch, feeling a mild tension in the area that your are stretching. You should never bounce into a stretch, take your time, and ease into it until you feel the mild tension mentioned earlier.
You should try to do this routine every morning to get the best effect. Start off by making sure you are warm, a hot shower to warm you up in the morning can help.
Start by lying on your back, keeping your spine flat to the floor and look up at the ceiling/sky with your head. Start with one leg, bend it at the knee and pull it towards your chest until you feel a mild tension. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then move onto the other leg, taking a 10 second rest in between. [Figure 1]
Next, lay on your back, keeping everything straight and looking up at the ceiling with your head. Bend your legs, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and lift it up until you feel a tension in the back of your neck, still keeping the rest of your back on the floor. Hold this tension position for 5 seconds and then slowly lower your head back to the floor. Repeat this 3 times. [Figure 2]
This is a good one if you have bad landings and find you hurt your ankles every now and then. Sit on the floor and have one leg flat. Grab the other leg just above the ankle. Rotate your foot clockwise providing a slight resistance with your other hand. Repeat this 20 times and then do the same but rotating your foot anti clockwise. Do not rush this. Now do the same with your other leg, again making sure you do not rush yourself. [Figure 3]
Start by leaning against a wall with your head resting on your hands. One leg should be closer to the wall and bent with the foot facing straight forward. The other leg should be straight and behind you, foot facing the wall and the heel touching the floor. Slowly push your hips forwards, keeping your back straight, stop when you feel a mild tension in your calf. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly move your hips back and relax. Repeat with the other leg, again taking your time. [Figure 4]
Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and facing straight forward. Slowly start bending from the hips keeping your knees slightly bent at the same time. Relax your neck and arms, keep bending until you get a slight stretch in the back of your legs. Hold this for 20 seconds and then slowly move back up. [Figure 5]
Start by standing with the side of your body next to a wall, put the palm of your hand closest to wall against it just a bit higher than your head. Now slowly and gently turn your body away from the wall until you feel a mild tension in your shoulder, You should be between one and two feet away from the wall at this point. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then slowly turn back and relax for a few seconds. Now repeat this with your other hand. [Figure 6]
Start by sitting on the floor and put the soles of your feet together, hold onto your toes. Now start to gently pull your self forwards towards your feet. Make sure you are moving from your hips and not bending from your shoulders or back. To help try resting your elbows on your knees for stability, this will make it easier. Keep moving forwards until you feel a good stretch in your groin. Hold this position for 40 seconds and then slowly move back and relax. [Figure 7]
Now you’ve finished the stretching routine make sure you wrap up warm to get the best effect. Do this every morning and you will see a marked improvement in your flexibility and you will be much more relaxed in the air.
Louis Harwood is a freeflyer from the UK and jumps at Target
Skysports, in Hibaldstow. He has competed for the last two years in the Artistic nationals, he has two silver and one gold medal in B catagory freefly, freestyle and skysurf. www.avalore.co.uk