- Fitness

Archery Fitness And Health


Stretching is important before and after shooting a bow. The following stretching exercises will prevent damage to muscles, tendons and joints, and increase flexibility. Always remember not to hold your breath while doing any of these exercises. As each exercise is done your muscles will require more oxygen, so breathing and heart rate will increase. The following exercises can be used before and after you participate in an archery activity:

Loosening upper arm and chest muscles: Interlock your fingers with palms out. Extend arms above head, keeping fingers interlocked. Stretch upwards and hold for 10 seconds.

Loosening back muscles: Cross arms in front of chest and place behind shoulders. Slowly stretch hands towards middle of back, as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds.

Loosening chest, top of shoulders, and lower arm muscles: Bend one arm over head and down back, bend other arm around and up back. Grasp finger tips and hold for 10 seconds. Then reverse arms and hold for 10 seconds.

Loosening shoulders and back muscles: Lock fingers together, extend arms and twist slowly as far as possible to the right and hold for 10 seconds. Then twist slowly to the left and hold for 10 seconds. Do this move SLOWLY, sudden twisting can injure backbone joints.

Loosening neck and upper shoulder muscles: From a normal standing position with arms at sides, raise up both shoulders towards neck as high as you can, then move shoulders forward, then back. Do this exercise for 10 seconds.

Loosening back and shoulder muscles: Use a length of rubber banding (resistance band). Grasp each end, raise arms to shoulder height and extend- keeping elbows straight- outwards and backwards by squeezing shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat about 6 times.

Loosening shoulder muscles: Again use rubber banding. Grasp each end, raise one arm above head and the other arm level with shoulder. Pull down with arm and hold for 10 seconds, repeat 6 times. Then switch arm position and repeat exercise.

Loosening chest and shoulder muscles: Again using rubber banding, grasp each end behind back. Hold arms at shoulder level, then pull arms forward to stretch the banding. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 6 times.

Loosening shooting muscles: Using the rubber banding, tie it in a loop and imitate the shooting draw. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 6 times. Repeat exercise with opposite arm, to balance muscle movement.

When using strength training, the muscle groups used in archery where strength is needed are:

Upper Back and Shoulder Muscles – to draw the bow

Upper and Lower Shoulder Muscles – to control the bow

Arm Muscles – to extend the bow arm

Finger muscles – to hold the bowstring

Upper and Lower Leg Muscles – to control balance

Lower Back and Waist Muscles – to control a steady stance

To exercise these muscles you should use specific movement exercises. A resistance band, as used in the stretching exercises, is a great way to build strength. You can always tie a resistance band to a closed door handle, standing with one close to the door, grab the band with the opposite arm and stretch across the body. Another great exercise for gaining arm strength is again tying the band to a closed door. Stand with your back facing the door, grasp the band at the end- holding it over the shoulder, and stretch arm outwards. Remember when doing any exercise to keep your back straight by holding in your stomach muscles, and keep knees slightly bent.

To strengthen leg muscles, all you need is your own body weight. Standing with feet should length apart, squat downwards in controlled movements. Make sure that when you squat down, your knees are not extending your ankles- if they are, you should bring your stance in a little closer. Another great leg exercise is the half-squat. For this exercise, stand with feet together, keeping knees slightly bent, push your pelvis towards the opposite wall, squat downwards putting your weight into your heels.

For the lower leg muscles, stand with feet together, with one leg slighty behind the other, and hands on your hips. Always remember to keep stomach muscles in tight, for a straight back, and keep your knees slightly bent. Now, with one leg, bend backwards towards your back at the knee. Concentrate on squeezing the leg muscles as you bring the leg up and down, keep your toes pointed towards the opposite wall, briefly touching them on the floor before bringing curling leg up again. Do about 10 of these – in two sets, and then switch legs.

You should always stretch before an archery activity, and before any muscle strengthening exercises, as to avoid any possible injury. If you do the strengthening and stretching exercises regularly, you will increase your flexibility and your muscle strength. For more examples on specific movement exercises, a simple search on the internet will provide you with plenty of different exercises. Just remember that archery is a physical sport and being in fit condition will help you to participate safely.

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Source by Sally Rutten

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