6 Stretches for Increased Martial Arts Performance
Flexibility is as essential to your success as a martial artist as combat drills, physical conditioning, and sparring workouts. By being flexible and limber, your movements – especially your kicks – will be more efficient and effective and it also makes your body less prone to injury from torn ligaments and muscles. The 6 types of stretches detailed below can be applied to the martial arts with ease.
- Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching is the perfect warmup to a martial arts workout as the movements used mimic the movements involved in the workout.
Example: swing your legs in a slow, controlled movement through your entire range of motion – as much as your hips allow. Support yourself against a wall with one hand while swinging the opposite leg back and forward 6-10 times as high as possible. This will loosen the hip joint and increase blood flow to the muscles.
- Static Stretching
Static stretch is defined as extending a muscle to the farthest possible point – you’ll feel a slight burn – and holding the position for 30 seconds. Static stretching helps maintain mobility and the range of motion, especially after a kick-heavy workout.
Example: the groin stretch can be done in a static fashion by bringing the soles of the feet together while sitting. Pull your ankles as close to your body as possible all the while using your elbows to push your knees towards the ground.
- Passive Stretching
Passive stretching will expand your flexibility threshold with the help of an exercise partner or apparatus. Your only job is to relax – you can even search for the best NBA bets at the same time – and allow your exercise partner or apparatus to apply pressure while you regulate the pace.
Example: to achieve a passive hamstring stretch, stand against a wall and have your exercise partner slowly lift your left up towards your body while keeping your leg straight and your knee locked.
- Active Stretching
With active stretching, the position is held for 10-15 seconds in sets of 8-10 reps, and is effective in actively engaging one set of muscles in order to stretch an opposing muscle group.
Example: your quadriceps can be used to lift your leg vertically in order to stretch your hamstring while you lie on your back. Flexible hamstrings are imperative in martial arts in order to perform effective high kicks and sweeping motions with a lesser risk of injury.
- Ballistic Stretching
Ballistic stretching – as seen most commonly in burpees – involves jumping rapidly in and out of a stretched position and should only be considered after a significant warmup. Ballistic stretching does not allow the muscle to adjust slowly to the stretch, but rather extends the tissue quickly and snaps it back rapidly and as such these types of rapid-fire stretches should be approached with caution.
- Isometric Stretching
Isometric stretching, which occurs within the dynamic of a passive stretch, increases your flexibility while developing strength for more effective striking. Have your partner lift your foot upward, bringing your knee ever closer to the body, while you apply resistance to the lift in increments of 15 seconds. One set should consist of 10 reps of resistance on each limb. This type of stretching can be done with the arms to reduce the risk of torn muscles while also adding strength to punches.