Strength, Flexibility, Balance, And Form Matter
While it looks like a simple balancing act, a heel stretch actually requires strength, flexibility and balance. So, while you can effectively pull off a heel stretch in just two steps, building the strength, flexibility and stability to execute those two steps is a bit more complicated. And if you want to add a heel stretch to your repertoire, or simply want to improve your form, make sure you know the basics.
Know The Steps
As it’s not necessarily a move every athlete can pull off immediately, a heel stretch is as simple as placing your feet together with your arms at your side, then lifting your leg, grabbing your foot, and pulling it up and back while raising the opposite arm to achieve a High-V position. Two steps sound easy, right? Wrong. It actually takes plenty of work to get a point where you can pull a heel stretch safely.
Specifically, a heel stretch requires you to start by lifting your leg in front of you, with your toe pointed. Then, use the hand on the same side as your lifted leg to grab the outside of your foot. From there, pull your leg as close to your body as possible and raise your opposite arm to form a sharp High-V. More advanced and flexible athletes can also pull a front heel stretch by pulling their leg straight in front of them, then using both hands to grab the foot and pull their leg to the front of their body. Given all that, remember that actually pulling a heel stretch takes core strength, balance, flexibility, and lots of practice. Use a stand or a spotter as you try to learn how to heel stretch, and be sure to ask your coach for advice and safety tips.
Know The Stretches
As it’s basically a leg stretch, stretching to prepare for a heel stretch doesn’t require any back or arm stretches. However, to stretch your legs before you attempt a heel stretch, slowly perform several leg split stretches and overextended splits.
Know The Common Mistakes
The key to properly performing a heel stretch is form. But a few small, simple mistakes can make pulling it off difficult. So always make sure you:
• Keep your chest straight up and down when reaching for your leg. Avoid dropping your chest as you reach.
• Keep your standing leg straight and don’t move or bend it. Don’t give in to the temptation to bend that leg while pulling a heel stretch.
• Keep your lifted leg slightly in front of you and as close to your body as possible. A common mistake many cheerleaders make while performing a heel stretch is to have their lifted leg too far away from their body.
Know The Path To The Perfect Heel Stretch
Like any stunt, the perfect heel stretch takes practice, effort, and concentration, To help perfect your heel stretch, have a coach or teammate watch you, spot you, or video your form. In addition, practice in front of a mirror to analyze your form. Finally, be patient and take the time to develop the strength, stability, and flexibility you need to execute a heel stretch. It may take time, but once you perfect it, a heel scratch will always earn you high marks.
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