Practicing a martial art is wonderful for physical health. But because martial arts techniques often involve physical motions outside of what most people do on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to warm up before practicing.
Stretching helps build flexibility so you can become an effective martial arts practitioner. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Here’s the smart way to incorporate stretching into your practice routine.
Warm Up First
Some people start stretching when their muscles are cold. That may be what the coach said to do at basketball practice, but studies have shown that it’s not actually the best way to go about stretching.
Stretching cold can actually cause injuries. You’re better off warming up your muscles and getting the blood flowing with a light warmup. Jump squats, elbow-knees, or a moderate jog around the dojo should do the trick.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know how important it is to breathe properly when exercising. It’s no different with stretching. Synchronize your breathing with your stretches to relax your body, improve your blood flow, and prevent post-workout fatigue.
Which Type of Stretches Are Better: Static or Dynamic?
Static stretching (where you stretch into a pose and hold it) used to be the warm up of choice for most athletes. New data, however, strongly indicates that dynamic stretches may be more beneficial. Dynamic stretching emphasizes fluidity of motion and utilizes the body’s natural momentum to stretch the muscles.
Several examples of dynamic stretching include:
Hip Circles. Stand up straight with your hands on your hips and feet wider than shoulder width. Move your hips in clockwise, and then counterclockwise, circles.
Leg Swings. Standing up straight, swing your leg out to the front, back, and side, going as high as you can each time. Repeat with the other leg. You may want to have one arm on a wall or pole for balance while doing these.
Lunges. Stand tall and step forward with one leg, keeping the other foot in place. Keep your back straight and lunge down until your back leg is parallel to the ground, or as close as you can get. Repeat with the other leg.Arm
Body Circles. Stand with your feet apart and your arms out to your sides. Rotate your arms at the shoulder, making large, sweeping circles. Move them both forwards and backwards.
There’s nothing wrong with static stretching at the end of a martial arts training session after the muscles are thoroughly warmed up, but dynamic stretching is the best way to go for pre-training flexibility.
Stay Flexible When Practicing Martial Arts.
Martial arts help you react to any situation with speed and grace, and stretching your muscles helps them do the same. Stay flexible by incorporating stretching into your martial arts practice routine. Your muscles will surely thank you!
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