Secrets to Stretching: Why, When and How
You’ve just finished a long, grueling workout, and you’re ready to head home. The last thing you want to do is stay those extra few minutes to finish off with a post-workout stretch, right?
Well, skipping your stretch may not feel like a big deal, but for an athlete, especially a martial arts athlete, stretching can be just as important as the workout itself. If you’re not quite convinced yet, keep reading and maybe you’ll change your mind.
Stretching is a big deal. Why?
Stretching defends the body from future injury, and can help heal a current injury. Stretching is the key to keeping your muscles strong and healthy, and this can greatly improve coordination, balance, and strength in the body as well.
For a martial artist, stretching is even more essential than it is for the majority of other types of athletes. The martial arts are unique in the sense that they demand a huge range of motion and an even greater amount of mobility due to the type of movements one must carry out.
By having strong flexibility, you will be able to execute techniques better than ever. Stretching is a simple concept, yet extremely effective.
When it comes to stretching, in order for it to be as beneficial as possible, it must be practiced regularly. You are going to see the most results when you make stretching a part of your daily schedule.
When you first start don’t push yourself beyond what feels comfortable. Stretch slowly, and be patient when it comes to seeing results. If you are stretching correctly it can take anywhere from weeks to months to reach your flexibility goals, but don’t let that discourage you! For, “patience is the key to paradise.”
When it comes to workouts, it is best to stretch both before and after. Before your workout, do a few jumping jacks, run a little, or jump rope, anything to get your muscles warm. Once you have done that, stretch for a few minutes – anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
After completing your workout, use stretching as a cool down to release the tightness that is built up due to lactic acid during your workout. Spend whatever time feels effective, but try again to shoot for at least 5-15 minutes.
There are many different ways to stretch, depending on what type of martial arts moves you are looking to improve upon, or what type of workout you are stretching after.
Some quick stretching tips – when stretching, to hold each pose for at least 30 seconds, make sure your muscles are warm before jumping into a stretch, and never continue with a stretch if you feel pain or sharpness.
There are infinite different types of stretches, but here are a list of some popular stretches martial arts athletes have claimed worked for them to get you started:
- Seated and Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Inner Thigh Wall Stretch
- Scorpion Stretch
- Lunging Stretch
- Calf Stretch
- Horse Stretch
- W Stretch
- Neck Stretch
Stretching is far more important than you may think. It is the key to perfecting many of the difficult martial arts moves which require a wide range of motion. When it comes to stretching, try to hold each pose for at least 30 seconds, and never do anything if it feels sharp or painful.
Stretching can be the missing key in perfecting a martial arts move you’re struggling with, so trust us, and never skip stretching before or after a workout! Remember to stay patient when it comes to improving your flexibility. Just keep working on it each day, and we promise the extra effort will pay off!