The one thing cheerleaders should stop doing right now!

Hint: Basket tosses are awesome! We should continue to do them…safely! And maybe with better form :)

I remember how in awe I was of my cheerleading teammates in high school when they could do a toe touch at our games. One friend just busted them out so easily and they were super pretty too. I struggled to get off the ground. I stretched and stretched every day. I practiced my approach and hit a motion. I worked on my lift and my straddles. Still nothing.

I ended my cheer career with mediocre jumps at best. I always was more flexible than most. I could touch my hands to the floor easily. My friends would stretch my leg well beyond the normal 70 degrees. I knew there had to be something more, but never figured it out. Somehow I was just never able to cross that wall and it sucked.

Long after I finished PT school, I found the reason why. I couldn’t believe that the thing I had been working on all the time wasn’t the answer. I remember feeling so grateful I didn’t get injured in the process.

Now I know I have to share the better way to increase mobility. I know I have to help those cheerleaders who struggle to increase their flexibility..and to teach that it is not actually the need to increase flexibility to improve their jumps.

Of course, when I tell people they don’t need to increase their flexibility, they think I’m crazy. When I tell them they don’t need to do the same thing on both sides, they go ahead and do both sides anyway.

But when they dialed their mobility-not flexibility-in they saw huge gains. People who couldn’t even reach their knees actually are now able to touch their toes. When that transformation happened, their eyes lit up and the smiles were broad. This cemented the knowledge I gained after PT school.

So what is the thing you should stop doing if you want to get higher jumps? STATIC STRETCHING.

That’s right. Static stretching at end range of movement actually makes the brain tell the muscle to shorten soon after you stop. All that stretching I did in my youth, just made my muscles contract and go back to the same length they had before I did my stretching. It’s no wonder my jumps never improved.

Do you need to improve mobility to improve your jumps? Absolutely. Does static stretching help your m mobility improve? Nope.

Want to learn more about the difference between mobility and flexibility? Stay tuned 😊

I am a physical therapist, strength coach and former cheerleader and coach. My goal is to help current and former cheerleaders stay healthy and moving well.