The 3 Best Stretches for Archery
Improve your archery and minimize injuries with 3 of the best archery stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published February 27, 2009 | Updated April 14, 2019
Napoleon’s troops had to face archers when they tried to invade Russia. The U.S. Army too used a detachment of archers in several actions in Asia during World War Two.
Archery soon moved from a skill of necessity to a skill of sport. The three basic types of archery contests are: Target archery; Clout archery; and Field archery.
Muscles used in Archery
Archery does not require a great deal of cardiovascular conditioning, but it does require muscular endurance. The continuous drawing back of the bow string requires strength and endurance in the upper body. A strong core and lower body is essential for balance and control. Strong forearms will ensure proper aiming and a steady grip.
The major muscles used by the archer include:
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the deltoids.
- The muscles of the neck; the levator scapula and trapezius muscles.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
A good overall strengthening program to keep the muscles strong and flexible will keep the archer on target for a long time.
Most Common Archery Injuries
Archery is a non contact sport that does not subject the body to a lot of violent impact. With the exception of an errant bolt, there are very few dangers of traumatic injury for the archer. The repetitive motion involved in practice and competition does, however, put the archer at risk for chronic or repetitive strain injuries.
Although archery has a low reported incidence of injury associated with it, there is some risk. The archer may fall victim to any of the following:
- Rotator cuff injuries;
- Wrist, hand and elbow tendinitis, including carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Muscle and tendon strains (neck and back commonly); and
- Muscle bruises and contusions.
Injury Prevention Strategies
The use of proper equipment and an overall conditioning program to prepare the muscles for repetitive use is essential for the archer. The following are also helpful:
- Warm-up properly prior to training and especially competition.
- Allow an adequate cool-down period after training and competition.
- A good strengthening program for the upper body will prepare the muscles for the repetitive strain of drawing back the string and holding the position.
- Good flexibility training will reduce injuries from tight and inflexible muscles.
- Body mechanics training will help prevent chronic injuries that develop due to misalignment issues.
- Proper use of arm guards and release devices will prevent “String Slap” and other potential injuries.
- Gradual increases in draw weight and repetitions during practice will ensure that the body is ready for the next step without shocking the muscles, helping to prevent strains.
The 3 Best Archery Stretches
Archery stretches are 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 of the best stretches for archery; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 10). Archery, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Mann, D. Littke, N. (1989). Shoulder injuries in archery. Canadian Journal of Sport Sciences, 14(2), 85-92.
- Palsbo, S. (2012). Epidemiology of recreational archery injuries: implications for archery ranges and injury prevention. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 52(3), 293-299.
- Singh, A. Lhee, S. (2016). Injuries in archers. Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine, 16(3), 168.
- Adkitte, R. Shah, S. Jain, S. Walia, S. Chopra, N. Kumar, H. (2016). Common injuries amongst Indian elite archers: A prospective study. Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine, 16(3), 210-213.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker 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 (author page) 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 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.