Badminton Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Badminton stretching exercises to improve your performance and do away with badminton injuries for good.
Badminton’s origin may be traced as far back as fifth century China when players would volley a shuttle back and forth using their feet. By the 17th century people throughout Europe were volleying the shuttle back and forth using a racket. The modern history of badminton traces back to 19th century India and a game called Poona.
If you’re looking to improve your badminton game or just seeking to prevent badminton injuries it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that’s just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
Poona was developed from a children’s game called battledore and shuttlecock in which a shuttlecock was volleyed back and forth, cooperatively, by hitting it with a battledore (paddle) to see how many hits the players could achieve. This game was played without a net.
Poona, although based on battledore and shuttlecock, was a fast-paced competitive game over a net. British soldiers stationed in India witnessed the game and were intrigued. They learned the game and took the equipment to play the game back to their home country in the early 1870s. It didn’t officially take off until 1873.
In 1873, the Duke of Beaufort held a lawn party at his country estate, Badminton. Poona was played at the party and became an instant success. People began calling it the Badminton game, and the name stuck. By 1893 the popularity of the sport had grown and 14 clubs joined forces to form the Badminton Association.
This group came together to standardize the rules and start the first tournament, the All-England Badminton Championships. The sport spread to other countries and the International Badminton Federation was created in 1934. The original federation had nine country members. Today, the IBF has more than 150 member countries.
Badminton is played with rackets and a shuttlecock. The shuttlecock is also called a bird because it is made with feathers. While recreational shuttlecocks may be made of plastic, competitive ones are made of 16 real feathers attached to a rubber stopcock. While the shuttlecock and rackets are light, the game is deceptive. It is actually the fastest racket sport, with the bird reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour. It is also not uncommon for a competitive player, in an elite match, to run as much as a mile during the match.
Badminton is enjoyed by many people and most people can easily learn to hit the shuttlecock over the net. However, at the competitive levels a great deal of cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance are needed. Great agility, quickness, and reaction are essential to be successful in badminton as well.
Lower body strength and endurance are important to the badminton player. A strong swing requires good upper body strength, as well. Core strength and endurance help with balance which improves overall agility.
Playing badminton requires the use of the following major muscles:
- The muscles of the lower leg; the gastrocnemius, the soleus and the anterior tibialis.
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
- The muscles of the hip; the gluteals, the adductors and abductors, and the hip flexor.
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, the pectorals, and the deltoids.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
- The muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps and the triceps.
A conditioning program that includes an overall cardiovascular program, a solid strength component, and good flexibility training will keep the badminton player healthy and performing at his or her peak.
Most Common Badminton Injuries
Badminton is not a contact sport, but due to the fast pace it can result in traumatic injury. Ankle sprains, Achilles tendon strains, anterior cruciate ligament sprains, and rotator cuff injuries are all common among competitive badminton players.
- Ankle Sprains: The sudden change in direction, especially once a player becomes fatigued, can easily result in the ankle “rolling.” This rolling of the ankle causes tears in the ligaments that support the ankle. This results in pain and tenderness at the injury site, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight. A popping sensation may be felt with the injury, as well. Ice, immobilization, and compression may help reduce the discomfort. An x-ray should be taken to rule out a fracture. Usual recovery time is about 4 to 6 weeks for a moderate sprain.
- Achilles Tendon Strain: The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus.) When the calf muscle contracts forcefully this tendon is under a great deal of stress. If the muscle is tight or not properly warmed up, a tear may occur in the tendon. This is called a strain. The amount of the tendon involved in the tear will determine the severity of the injury. A complete tear (or rupture) will take much longer to heal and may require surgical intervention. Minor tears can be treated with rest, ice, NSAIDs, and in some cases immobilization. The low blood flow to tendons complicates the recovery and lengthens the process.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Sprain: The anterior cruciate ligament is the main stabilizing ligament in the knee. When the foot is planted and the upper leg begins to rotate the ACL is put under tremendous stretch, and may result in a tear. This reduces the structural integrity of the knee and results in a great deal of pain. Immobilization, ice, and rest are keys to treating an ACL injury. In cases of complete rupture of the ligament, surgical intervention may be needed to reattach the ligament. This, of course, increases overall recovery time. The knee may be loose and lose some structural strength, requiring rehabilitation to get it back to pre-injury condition.
- Rotator Cuff Injuries: The swinging motion places the shoulder in an exposed position and if the arm rotates out of the natural path of movement the shoulder may be injured. The rotator cuff muscles are designed to stabilize the shoulder and if they are stretched or torn due to an acute, unnatural movement, they will not be able to provide that support. Acute injury to the rotator cuff can be minor, a simple strain of the muscles, to severe, with a complete rupture of the muscular structure. Chronic injury to the rotator cuff muscles and tendons may also occur if improper body mechanics are used in the swing repetitively. Rest, ice and NSAIDs may help chronic conditions, while immobilization and even surgery, may be needed to repair acute injuries. Rehabilitation is common with this type of injury.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Overall conditioning is essential to the badminton player to help reduce injuries on the court.
- Playing on well manicured outdoor courts or indoor courts with well maintained surfaces will reduce lower extremity injuries.
- Strong muscles, especially in the lower extremities, will prevent many injuries caused by the constant change in direction and explosive movements.
- Good endurance will help delay the onset of fatigue, which contributes to a high percentage of sports injuries.
- Quality equipment and body mechanics training will help prevent chronic injuries that develop due to misalignment issues.
- Proper warm-up and a good flexibility program will reduce injuries from tight and inflexible muscles.
The Top 3 Badminton Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for badminton; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
Rotating Wrist Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.
Elbow-out Rotator Stretch: Stand with your hand behind the middle of your back and your elbow pointing out. Reach over with your other hand and gently pull your elbow forward.
Standing Toe-up Achilles Stretch: Stand upright and place the ball of your foot onto a step or raised object. Bend your knee and lean forward.
Looking at photos and watching videos on your computer is fine, but to really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a free copy of my Stretching DVD & CD-ROM.
The exercises and recommendations on this page are just a small sample of the many stretching exercises presented on my free Stretching DVD. In total, you'll get 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.
The DVD includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.
The Stretching DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out my free Stretching DVD & CD-ROM for yourself.
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