Badminton Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Badminton stretching exercises to improve your performance and do away with badminton injuries for good.
by Brad Walker | First Published January 23, 2009 | Updated June 4, 2017
In the fifth century, players in China volleyed a shuttle back and forth with their feet. By the 17th century, people in Europe started using a racket. Modern badminton can be traced to 19th century India and a game called Poona.
Poona, based on battledore and shuttlecock, was played without a net. British soldiers based in India developed the net variation in early 1870s.
In 1873, the Duke of Beaufort held a lawn party at his country estate named Badminton. Poona was played there and it became an instant hit. People called it the Badminton game. By 1893 the popular sport grew to 14 clubs.
The first All-England Badminton Championships were held with standardized rules. The International Badminton Federation was formed with nine country members in 1934. Its present strength is over 150.
Modern day Badminton is played with rackets and shuttlecocks made of 16 bird feathers. The shuttlecock may reach a speed of 200 miles per hour and a player may run nearly a mile during a competitive 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 under 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.
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About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.