2009 Women’s Academic
2009 Men’s Academic
Sponsored by Alpha Factor
5 ways to stretch them
1: Arms up High
The setting: A gym club in Suburban, Anywhere. A gymnast has
a poor body line in handstands. The Posture Lady notes that the
gymnast’s arms do not go all the way up overhead. She also notes
that the gymnast arches her back when her arms are forced overhead. No time is spent on correct stretching.
Clue #1: The wall is straight; use it. Stand against a wall with your
heels a few inches away. Start with your arms extended out to the
side. Slide arms up, keeping them in contact with the wall. Be sure
to keep the abdomen pulled up and in and the low back flat against
the wall. Stick to it with 5 repetitions every day.
2: Arms by Ears
A witness passes by during the wall stretch. Firsthand account given
that above gymnast had arms too wide. When bringing the arms
overhead, the gymnast must have the arms touching the ears.
Otherwise, certain musculature, namely the teres major muscle, is
too tight. This tightness is evidence that the arms go too wide on
skills such as front and back handsprings.
Clue #2: Touch your right arm to your right ear and touch your
left arm to your left ear. During the above wall stretch exercise, be
sure to slide arms up close to the ears, remembering to keep the
abdomen and back flat.
3: Arms out Wide
Perplexed? The gymnast’s arms should go by her ears and go out
wide? Yes. When lying flat on her back with palms facing up, the
gymnast’s arms should touch the floor at all angles of movement.
International GYMNAST October 2009
Edited by Dwight Normile
In general, it’s much
easier for people to
take criticism in pri-
vate rather than in
front of the whole
world. A wise prac-
tice is praise in public,
criticize in private.
Adapted from “The Double-Goal Coach” by Jim
Thompson, founder and executive director of Positive
Coaching Alliance ( www.positivecoach.org).
Clue #3: Keep your chest muscles flexible by sitting and standing straight and tall. Have a motive. Don’t be a slouch. I have a
hunch that your arms do touch the floor when you are lying on
your back with your arms out wide. Keep them this way. This
will help you with presentation and poise, much-needed qualities of gymnasts.
4: Rotate that Rotator Cuff
The plot thickens. The puzzling rotator cuff needs to be rotated.
Medical detectives say that the rotator cuff is a network of four
muscles and tendons that need to be carefully balanced.
Quick Test: Gymnast stands up straight, no back arch, and
reaches one bent arm up behind their head and the other bent
arm behind their back.
Clue #4: Fingertips should touch. Don’t be a victim of rotator
cuff trouble. Work on touching your fingertips during the rotator cuff test. Do both sides daily. Tighten your abdominals and
keep your low back straight while your shoulder rotators do the
5: Shoulders Stretched Back
As I look at a gymnast from the front, I see the backs of the
her hands as her arms hang at her sides. What is her alibi? Was
she lying down with her arms resting on her belly and having a
coach, parent or teammate stretch her shoulders back and
down to the floor? No. She needed that stretch but was slouching, instead.
Clue #5: When standing, with arms hanging down, the palms
of your hands should face in, toward your body. Lift your chest
up and pull your shoulder blades gently down, back and in. This
is a breakthrough! It will help your palms face your body. Be
sure to find a partner to help you stretch your shoulders down
to the floor for one minute each day.
Five clues given. Case solved. Shoulders stretched!