Athletes in most sports must be flexible to perform better and avoid injuries. There are numerous stretches an athlete can do without any special equipment. However, if an athlete wants to take his stretching routine to a higher level, he can use flexibility exercise equipment. There are many flexibility machines and devices that can help an athlete get a good stretch in his legs, arms, shoulders, abs and back.
A martial artist is an example of an athlete who needs a high degree of flexibility in his legs. Many martial artists frequently kick to the head level of their opponents. Leg stretching machines are often used to help martial artist get that extra stretch in their legs. A leg stretching machine is basically an apparatus that a martial artist sits in while placing his legs in padded leg supports. The machine allows him to increase the distance between his legs, ultimately achieving a seated split.
Arms and Shoulders
From boxing to baseball, there are many sports that require its athletes to have flexible arms and shoulders. One of the best pieces of equipment to stretch the arms and shoulders is a stretching strap. A stretching strap is typically made out of a non-flexible cloth material. Some straps allow an athlete to adjust their length, and the straps can reach up to 6-feet long. These straps can be used in a variety of ways to stretch the arms and shoulders. For example, the ends of the strap can be held in each hand, or one end of the strap can be attached a door. Stretching straps can also be used to stretch the legs.
Abs and Back
Most sports require athletes to do some type of twisting, turning or bending. These movements use the abdominal and back muscles. A good piece of equipment for stretching these areas is a stability ball. A stability ball is a large, inflated rubber ball. An athlete can get a good abdominal stretch by simply lying on the stability ball and extending his body backward over the ball. The back can be stretched by lying face down and draping the body over the ball.
Flexibility exercise equipment can vary greatly in prices. A stretching strap can be purchased for as little as $10, but a leg stretching machine can be priced as high as $200. The importance of flexibility in an athlete's sport or daily routine will dictate how much money is invested in flexibility exercise equipment.
Some flexibility exercise equipment, such as the stability ball and stretching strap, can be purchased at local sporting goods stores. Some pieces of stretching equipment are also readily available for use at local gyms. Larger, unique pieces of equipment, such as the leg stretching machine, might need to be purchased through a catalog or on the Internet.
Flexibility exercise equipment can help athletes stretch their muscles beyond normal limits. However, athletes need to be careful not to overdo it. The increased ability to stretch the muscles can also mean an increased risk of damaging them. Minimal strain and no pain should be felt during stretches.