Benefits of Stretching
Stretching provides the following numerous benefits that enhance martial arts training as well as other athletic activities:
- Increases flexibility and range of motion. Stretching helps martial artists to achieve higher kicks (i.e. axe kicks) or more difficult grappling positions.
- Reduces the potential for martial arts injuries by loosening tight muscles and allowing greater range of motion (which in turn hopefully reduces over-extension injuries).
- Possibly speeds the recovery time from injuries. Physical trainers often use gentle stretching after an injury in order to help restore flexibility and strength.
- Reduces muscle soreness after an intense martial arts workout.
- Potential for improvement to punching power or kicking power due to a wider range of motion and limb flexibility. This can result in a greater wind-up and thus more potential power.
- Increases blood flow to your muscles and thus enhances muscular development.
- Improves coordination and balance given the different positions and muscles utilized during various stretching techniques. For example, a standing quad stretch is a great stretch that also works on your balance.
- Provides stress relief as you loosen tight muscles.
- Enhances mental focus as you concentrate on the stretch prior to beginning more intense martial arts training. Some martial artists use the stretching segment of training as almost a meditation session in order to mentally prepare.
Stretching routines should be done before and after martial arts training in order to maximize the benefits of stretching. All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized.
For videos and instructions for specific stretches (i.e. hamstring stretches), please visit the Black Belt Wiki section on martial arts stretching.
Martial Arts Stretching
- Mayo Clinic, Stretching: Focus on flexibility, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931
- About.com Orthopedics, Groin Strain Treatment, http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/sprainsstrains/a/groinstrain_2.htm