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Martial Arts Workout – Stretching

by Mike Leggett on March 14, 2010

Stretching is a crucial part of your Martial Arts Workout. Stretching encourages flexibility in your muscles and joints which is essential for good extension and power in your techniques. Good, slow stretching teaches your muscles a new and greater level of safe extension. It conditions your muscles and joints to allow greater flexibility without causing damage which will hamper your training and, possibly, your ability to progress in your chosen Martial Art.

Stretching Sessions

It is well within reason to have regular workout sessions that consist solely of stretching and flexibility training. Always after some form of aerobic warm-up, a prolonged session of focused stretching on specific muscle groups will produce great improvement to your all round flexibility. It is recommended that these sessions be limited to once or twice a week as Technique and Power are the primary requirements for Martial Arts training and should not be neglected for long.

Stretching as part of your Warm-up

Stretching can be, and should be, a part of your workout warm-up regime but stretching cold muscles will inevitably lead to tearing or other injuries. For this reason, you should always perform at least a light warm-up that raises your body temperature a little beforehand. This will make your muscles more flexible and better able to maximise the results you gain from stretching.

Breathing when Stretching

As with all aspects of Martial Arts workouts, it is important to breathe correctly during stretching, as it is during any exercise. As you work your way into a stretch you should breathe in through your nose. Hold that breath for a moment as you hold your stretch. Then exhale through your mouth. At the same time that you exhale, you should “relax into your stretch” and deepen it so that you stretch just a little further.

Static Stretching

Static Stretching is probably the most common form of focused warm up stretching. This is a process of targeting an individual muscle, or group, and extending it until you feel a slight painful sensation. You should hold that position for a short time (10 to 60 seconds), then slowly ease the tension on that muscle. Now rest for a minute then stretch the muscle again. Do this a few times for each target muscle. Be sure to breathe properly throughout the stretch and to relax the target muscle while you are stretching it. Tension in the muscle is counter productive to a good stretch.

Importantly, Static Stretching is to be performed in a smooth and gradual motion. DO NOT BOUNCE in a static stretch; doing so will lead to potential injury.

Dynamic Stretching

This is the process of moving a muscle fluidly through its full range of movement but must be done carefully. Examples of Dynamic Stretching are Leg Raises, Torso Twists, and Arm Rotations. You must be careful not to over extend the muscle or limb, or allow too much momentum, as this can cause tearing and strain injuries. Again, DO NOT BOUNCE into the extent of a limb’s movement. All movements should be slow and smooth, and target muscles should be relaxed.

Partnered Stretching

This is the process of using an immoveable object or a partner to assist with your Static Stretching. A common example of this is where you and your partner sit on the floor, facing each other with your legs spread apart and your feet touching your partner’s feet. Ease yourself closer to your partner, which increases the stretch in your legs to a point where you are both comfortable but are both feeling the stretch. If you are shorter than your partner, it may mean that your feet are making contact half way up their calves.

Now hold hands and take it in turns to pull each other forward so that one person’s chest comes forward and closer to the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds then change roles. Alternate several times. Be sure to talk to you partner to ensure they pull you far enough to make an effective stretch, and let them know when to pull harder or ease off.

Cautions while Stretching

Stretching and flexibility training is an integral part of any Martial Arts workout and should be a slow, gradual process that should be increase gently over weeks rather than days.

Don’t overstretch; injuries are not helpful in any training regime. If you experience joint pain during a stretch you should stop that type of exercise and consider getting a medical opinion on the affected joint.

You may feel a mild burning sensation in the muscle you are stretching, but major muscle pain is another indication that you should stop.

Always warm up before you stretch and never bounce in a stretch.

Author: Mike Leggett
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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