The best stretches before playing softball prepare your body for the practice or game ahead and help you prevent injury. You’ll be doing fancy stepping to get your lower body stretched with dynamic movements that increase your range of motion. You will also work to get those shoulders loosened up to help you bat, throw and catch more effectively.
Light jogging, skipping and jumping jacks are effective ways to get your blood moving before you start to stretch. For softball warm-ups, vary your arm motions during the jumping jacks -- swing them overhead and also cross them in front of your chest. Do this for a few minutes.
Knee-Ups and Related Moves
You’ll find the classic knee-up recommended everywhere, from kettlebell training to team sports. In softball, it helps you stretch your glutes, which is important for explosive jumps in the infield on defense and for base running. Bring an alternating knee on each step as high as you can toward your chest, grasp the leg under the knee briefly, and release. Take a little pump -- a push off the ground -- with the opposite calf. Follow with the heel-ups, which resemble a traveling quad stretch, to warm up your hamstrings. Bring each heel up toward your butt, grasp it in your same-side hand briefly, and add a calf pump. Older players can add a tug to the foot, bringing it up and away from the glutes.
Open up your hips with the foot-to-opposite hip stretch, which as it suggests, involves pulling the foot toward the opposite hip. And perform the comically named "Frankenstein walk," reaching with your opposite hand to your foot kicked high to warm the hamstrings.
Back Scratchers and Related Moves
The shoulder complex, so crucial to softball, also needs a little love. Perform backscratchers by reaching your right hand over your left shoulder and moving your left hand up the middle of your back, advises Carol Kelderman, an Iowa-based physical therapist and expert in sports orthopedics. Try to touch fingers, which may be difficult at first. Open up your chest and swing your arms wide, and then switch arms. Self hugs and arm circles further mobilize the shoulder joints and stretch the pecs. You can finish with wipers by sweeping your arms up and down in front of your body and with cheerleaders by sweeping the arms from your hips to above your head.
If you’ve ever gotten early to an MLB game, you’ve seen pro baseball players lying on the manicured greensward, performing this stretch. You simply lie on your back, and touch your opposite foot to your opposite hand, to stretch the muscles of the back, hamstrings and hips. Flip to your stomach and perform the opposite foot-hand touches to work out your hip flexors and abs.