If you are a casual paintballer, you’re probably not playing every weekend of the year. This means the muscles you’ll be using during the paintball game haven’t been exerted and built up in a few months, and that means that you could come home very sore. Even worse, you could come home with an injury that could last for months after the big game. Injury and muscle stiffness can be prevented by properly warming up and stretching before you begin your paintball “workout.” You may think you look a little goofy stretching before a game, but your body will thank you. Think of it like any other sport, be it football, basketball, rugby, ice skating - an athlete will always stretch before an event.
First, you need to warm up your muscles a bit. If you stretch your muscles without warming them up a bit, it can actually cause injury. Start with 10-20 “jumping jacks.” This is a movement that is pretty broad and gets the heart pumping quickly. Or, jump 10-20 times in the air in “jump-rope” fashion. Another simple warm-up is to run in place for 1 minute. This will get your let muscles moving - but don’t forget the arms. Standing in place, swing your arms around windmill-style either in parallel or, start with one arm up and one arm down and then begin. The purpose of the warm up movements are to create a broad, smooth movement that doesn’t necessarily “work” the muscle too much. You want to get your heart really pumping blood around to all parts of your body so that your muscles are prepped for stretching.
Begin stretching your large muscles first. Sit down and spread your legs into a “V” in front of you. It really doesn’t matter how large of an angle you can spread your legs. Just as far as you can comfortably spread them is fine. Work toward getting at least a forty-five degree spread. Next, raise both arms above your head, rotate your body toward one foot (the feet can remain relaxed - neither flexed nor pointed) and slowly bend your chest toward your knee, while at the same time stretching toward your toe. Do this with your back flat to stretch the back of your leg and repeat with a curved back to stretch the large muscle of the back - the hamstrings.
Now stretch your glutes and surrounding muscles by sitting with legs bent in front of you, with the bottoms of your feet together. Now, take one leg and place the top of the knee on the base of the other foot. Now slowly press your chest toward the ground in front of you. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat with the opposite legs.
To stretch the quadriceps, stand up and grab on to a steady object. Bend your left leg at the knee and grab it with your right hand and gently pull toward your tailbone. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat with your right leg.
It is also helpful to stretch your calf and ankle muscles. Inside, place your toes on a stair and let your heels go below the level of the stair. Do this very gently and make sure you have something to stabilize you so you don’t over-extend these muscles. Now step down and rotate each foot in a few circles.
Now stretch your smaller muscles. Grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull the straight right arm across your chest. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the left arm. Now grab your hands together behind your back and gently lift them up toward the ceiling/sky. Hold for 10 seconds. Both of these stretches will give your shoulders a nice stretch that will really help ease the motion of lifting your gun into position over and over during the game.
After you’re finished with your event, make sure to properly cool-down and repeat these stretches before you head home.