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Warming up, stretching, toning for those summertime sports

Regardless of what type of shape you’re in, some recreational sports require different muscle power than those you’re more accustomed to using during your workouts.

If you’ve joined an outdoor sports league this summer, good for you! Or maybe you’re just into making the most of the warm, sunny days when it comes to volleyball, tennis, golf, baseball, soccer and more.

Regardless of what type of shape you’re in, some recreational sports require different muscle power than those you’re more accustomed to using during your workouts. That’s why I’ve come up with five exercises and stretches to get you in tip-top shape for summer sports.

To fully prepare for your summer sports, do these exercises every other day. However if you’re in a pinch, just perform these right before a game or event.

Squats

Squats will help you loosen up your hips and strengthen your lower body. In beach volleyball, softball and other sports, having a strong lower body is important so that you can jump, run, and move faster.

How To: Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Bend your knees and lower your glutes back as if you are sitting in a chair. Then press down through your heels to come back up to standing.

Arm Circles

Loosening up the upper body is key for sports that require swinging motions, like an overhead spike in volleyball, a tennis swing, swimming, and throwing a softball or baseball.

How To: Stand up and straighten your arms down by your sides. Then swing the arms back, up, and down and make a circle. Repeat this 10 times and then reverse the circles.

Health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a twisting low lunge.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Twisting Low Lunge

Improving mobility in your spine and midsection as well as combining this with lower body movements helps with agility and overall body connectedness. Twists help with swings in racquet sports, too.

How To: Step your right foot forward and left foot back into a low lunge. Place your left hand on the ground next to your right foot, and then twist the right arm up towards the ceiling. Quickly come back to center and switch legs and twist to the opposite side. Keep this moving and repeat 5 twists to each side.

Bicycle Abs

This core exercise assists in building strength and rotation and can also help reduce low back pain. Learning to engage your abs will be beneficial for picking up ground balls in softball, passing the ball in volleyball, rotating and swinging in tennis, and more.

How To: Lying on your back, bend your knees. Place your hands behind your head. Pull your navel in towards your spine and bring your knees up to a tabletop position. Then, rotate your right shoulder towards your left knee and extend your right leg. Switch and rotate to the left. Continue alternating for 10 times to each side.

Lying Twists

Finally, stretching the low back and spine is helpful to increase mobility and decrease soreness.

How To: Lying on your back, bend your knees in towards your chest. Bring the knees over to the right and let them fall towards the ground. Open your arms into a T position, and then look over your left shoulder. Hold for a few breaths, and then switch sides.

Stephanie Mansour wants you to ‘“step up” your fitness regimen. Mansour coaches private clients in weight loss, provides fitness/health/lifestyles advice on national TV shows, and offers her free 21 Day Challenge online. Check out her fitness tips every Thursday in the Well section of the Chicago Sun-Times. And visit her website at stepitupwithsteph.com.