Wrestling Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Wrestling stretching exercises to improve your performance and do away with wrestling injuries for good.
Wrestling has been around for a long time. The first time two men grappled and began to battle, wrestling was born. Cave drawings depicting wrestlers from 3000 BC have been found in the Sumero-Akkadian civilization. Some ancient Egyptian civilizations have similar paintings dating back to 2400 BC.
If you’re looking to improve your wrestling or just seeking to prevent wrestling 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.
Wrestling as a sport can be traced back to the ancient Olympics. Wrestling was recorded in the 708 BC Olympic records. Since that time wrestling has been practiced throughout the world. There are hundreds of styles of wrestling throughout the world, with many indigenous forms.
There are four main forms of wrestling in the international amateur competitive wrestling arena. These four forms are; Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling, judo wrestling, and sombo wrestling. Judo wrestling is often considered one of the martial arts, and is contested separately at the Olympics. Freestyle wrestling is similar to the American collegiate style of wrestling, with relatively unlimited holds (provided they are not dangerous.) Greco-Roman wrestling limits holds to the upper body only. Sombo wrestling is a combination of freestyle and judo wrestling. This version has not yet been added to the Olympic competition.
Wrestling was a part of the first modern Olympic program in 1896. The organizers of the games considered wrestling to be of such historical significance that it became the focus of the Games. Greco-Roman wrestling was believed to be a true reincarnation of ancient Roman and Greek wrestling. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling have been a part of Olympic competition since 1920. Before that only one style was contested. In 2004 four classes of women’s wrestling were introduced at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Competitors are weighed prior to competition and compete in the weight category in which they fit. The categories for men are: 55 kg, 60 kg, 66 kg, 74 kg, 84 kg, 96 kg, and 120 kg. For women the categories include; 48 kg, 51 kg, 55 kg, 59 kg, 63 kg, 67 kg, and 72 kg (with 48, 55, 63 and 72 being the ones used in Olympic competition.)
Modern professional wrestling only loosely resembles wrestling at all. It is designed for entertainment instead of sport. The “wrestlers” are arguably still very athletic and often use loose interpretations of traditional wrestling moves. The professional wrestler is more an entertainer than an athlete, and is rewarded for being flamboyant and a good actor.
Wrestling requires a great deal of muscular endurance and strength. The ability to move an opponent and control their body while maintaining one’s own balance and space requires a great deal of body control. Balance and muscle control are essential components of wrestling. A wrestler must be able to react to his or her opponent during moves and holds.
Upper and lower body strength is very important to the wrestler. Core strength will help a wrestler secure and maintain many holds, and at the same time escape holds by an opponent. Quickness and agility are also important keys to wrestling success. Overall conditioning is important to last the 2 minutes of grueling physical stress of each period.
Wrestlers use the following major muscle groups:
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the pectorals, the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the deltoids.
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
- The muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps, and the triceps.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
- The muscles of the neck and the trapezius.
Wrestlers spend a lot of time preparing their bodies for the physical rigors of a match. A good overall conditioning program that includes muscular endurance and strength work, along with cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility training is important for the wrestler to pin down their success.
Most Common Wrestling Injuries
Wrestling is a contact sport in which the body is contorted into many different positions. This puts the muscles and joints under great stress. The repetitive training required to condition the body for matches can also lead to chronic injuries.
Like any contact sport wrestling can be dangerous. Rules have been implemented to reduce the danger, but there are still some common injuries associated with wrestling. These include neck injury, nosebleed, cauliflower ear, and knee sprains.
- Neck Injury: Throws, especially those done incorrectly, can lead to injury to the neck. Holds where the wrestler’s head is caught at an awkward angle can also cause neck injuries. Not every neck injury will result in spinal cord injury. Some injuries are only to the muscles of the neck, and some fractures are not dislocated. However, every neck injury should be treated as a spinal cord injury until ruled out by a medical professional. Spinal immobilization is the most important step in treatment. This will help prevent future damage to the spinal cord if it is involved.
- Nosebleed: This is probably the most common injury in wrestling. It can be caused by contact with an opponents head, shoulder, or knee during a hold or reversal. A nosebleed should be treated with pressure, by pinching the nostrils. If there is no break the nosebleed should stop with direct pressure. Ice may be applied to the bridge of the nose to slow the bleeding, as well. After a nosebleed the blood vessels may be more susceptible to rupture again immediately after. If the nose is broken it may need to be set, and return to activity after may be delayed to allow it to heal.
- Cauliflower Ear: A blow to the ear may cause blood or other fluid to collect between the skin and the cartilage of the ear. The ear will be swollen and tender, and resemble a cauliflower. The ear will be soft at first, but as the fluid is replaced with fibrous tissue it will begin to harden. If the fluid is drained by a medical professional before the fibrous tissue begins to form the ear may return to normal. Once the tissue forms it will require surgical intervention to return it to normal. While the ear is swollen with fluid it will be very tender and painful. Protection of the ear and draining are the first steps in treatment.
- Knee Sprain: During a wrestling match the knee may be twisted and turned in many different directions. The ligaments supporting the knee are under a great deal of stress trying to hold the knee together. If these ligaments are stretched or torn the knee will lose some structural integrity. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament, and both the lateral and medial collateral ligaments are subjected to external forces that could cause tearing. The ACL is the most commonly sprained in wrestling. A partial tear will require immobilization, ice, and rest to help with recovery. A complete rupture may require surgery and many weeks of recovery.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Practice for how and when to use specific moves and holds, along with a good overall conditioning program, will help a wrestler stay healthy and keep wrestling.
- Strength and muscular endurance are both important to a wrestler, so a program that stresses both aspects will help a wrestler avoid injury.
- Wrestling under controlled conditions and supervision will also help prevent many injuries.
- A good conditioning program that will help delay the onset of fatigue, the leading cause of injury in most sporting events, will prepare the wrestler for the intense physical activity of a match.
- A good flexibility program will help prepare a wrestler’s body for the various positions it may be forced into. Well stretched muscles will respond better to the constant stretching and contracting of a match.
The Top 3 Wrestling 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 wrestling; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.
Rotating Stomach Stretch: Lie face down and bring your hands close to your shoulders. Keep your hips on the ground, look forward and rise up by straightening your arms. The slowly bend one arm and rotate that shoulder towards the ground.
Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.
Get more Stretching Exercises here...
To do away with stiff, tight muscles and joints, and improve your full body mobility and freedom of movement, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).
In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 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 also 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 wherever you go.
The Handbook and 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 the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.
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.