The 3 Best Stretches for Wrestling

Improve your wrestling and minimize injuries with 3 of the best wrestling stretches.

by Brad Walker | First Published December 19, 2008 | Updated March 26, 2019
The history of wrestling goes back to 3000 BC to the Sumero-Akkadian civilization. Similar Egyptian civilization paintings date back to 2400 BC. As a sport, Wrestling was recorded in the 708 BC Olympics.

Out of hundreds of styles, there are four main international amateur competitive forms of wrestling:

  • Greco-Roman wrestling;
  • Freestyle wrestling;
  • Judo wrestling; and
  • Sombo wrestling (Not included in the Olympics yet).
Wrestling stretches and flexibility exercises

Muscles used in Wrestling

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.

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:

  • Knee injuries;
  • Shoulder injuries;
  • Neck injuries; and
  • Nosebleed and cauliflower ear.
Stretches for wrestling

Injury Prevention Strategies

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 stay injury free. The main injury prevention strategies include:

  • Wrestling under controlled conditions and supervision.
  • Practice for how and when to use specific moves and holds.
  • Always warm-up properly prior to training and especially competition.
  • Allow an adequate cool-down period after training and competition.
  • Strength and muscular endurance are both important to a wrestler, so a program that stresses both aspects will help a wrestler avoid injury.
  • A good cardiovascular conditioning program that will help delay the onset of fatigue.
  • Good flexibility training 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 3 Best Wrestling Stretches

Wrestling 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 wrestling; 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.

Chest and shoulder stretch for wrestling
Assisted Reverse Chest and Shoulder 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.
Lower back and core stretch for wrestling
Rotating Lower Back and Core 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.
Upper hamstring stretch for wrestling
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.

Want more Wrestling Stretches?

While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you add the right stretches to your training program. With the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM) you'll...

  • The Stretching Handbook, DVD & CD-ROMImprove your sporting performance;
  • Do away with stiff, tight muscles and joints;
  • Improve your freedom of movement and mobility;
  • Get rid of injuries, aches and pains; and
  • Take your flexibility to the next level...

You'll get 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretches for every major muscle groups in your body. Plus, the DVD includes 3 customized sets of stretches (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. And the Handbook will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly and safely. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly.

If you want to improve your flexibility so you can to train harder, race faster, recover quicker and move better, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.

Research and References

Brad Walker - AKA The Stretch CoachAbout 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.

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Stretching exercises to improve your flexibility so you can train harder, race faster, recover quicker, move better and get rid of stiff, tight muscles and joints!

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