Most of us wouldn’t step onto the golf course, tee up, and start driving away without taking a few easy swings to warm up the muscles we’ll be using. Scuba diving is a bit different, since there are some studies that have linked intense physical workouts to decompression illness. Divers Alert Network recommends waiting 24 hours before diving following a strenuous workout and making sure that a predive workout is limited to simple stretches. Simple, yes, but stretching boosts circulation and lubricates your joints and muscles so it will be easier for you to shimmy into a wetsuit, hoist tanks, and get up the swim ladder.
Remember, when stretching, it should never be painful — stretch until it is slightly uncomfortable, hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and then repeat all stretches two to three times.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch: Stand near a wall for support. Grasp your ankle and gently pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Tighten your stomach muscles to prevent your stomach from sagging outward, and keep your knees close together. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Hamstring Stretch: Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or a door frame. Raise your left leg and rest your left heel against the wall. Keep your left knee slightly bent. Gently straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Calf Stretch: Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Place your right foot behind your left foot. Slowly bend your left leg forward, keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor. Hold your back straight and your hips forward. Don’t rotate your feet inward or outward. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Iliotibial Band (ITB) Stretch: Stand near a wall for support. Cross your left leg over your right leg at the ankle. Extend your left arm overhead, reaching toward your right side. You’ll feel a stretch along your left hip. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Shoulder Stretch: Bring your left arm across your body and hold it with your right arm, either above or below the elbow. Hold for about 15 to 30 seconds. Switch arms and repeat.
For more easy stretches, visit the Mayo Clinic’s web site. mayoclinic.com
We’ve got lots of practical tips and advice for scuba diving safety, health and training on the Training section of our website.
Chadd Lin is a certified personal trainer with a B.S. in exercise science. He makes his home in Tennessee.