We all think we understand flexibility and stretching but many rarely actually think about it. Here is a blog for a few things to think about.
Notice that the stiffest tree is easily cracked while the bamboo survives by bending with the wind
Why is it important?
It makes life easier. Every movement you make requires some degree of flexibility, from something as simple as walking to something requiring you be more flexible like the splits. Therefore it is important that as we age we train and maintain the flexibility we have, even improve on it when we can.
With whatever movement we do our bodies use certain muscles. Our bodies are very good at making compensations to get a job done. If we aren’t flexible enough then more muscles must be used, muscles that aren’t usually used for that movement and therefore more strain is put on those muscles. This is what gives a higher risk of injury.
In martial arts, flexibility is very important. It assists in the execution of proper technique. It also helps strength, speed and coordination. Without adequate flexibility these qualities are affected detrimentally.
It’s more than just kicking
From a martial arts point of view flexibility can help with more arts than those that involve kicking. BJJ, wrestling, and other grappling arts also get a lot of benefits from maintaining and improving flexibility.
Simply doing something to maintain or improve your flexibility each day will prevent those groans when getting out of a chair, or the stiffness in your back when you sit for too long.
How can you improve your flexibility?
The simple answer is stretching. There is no magic technique, just stretch. Obviously there are certain types of stretches for different muscle groups and depending on what you want to stretch depends on the stretch you may wish to concentrate on, but generally a full body stretching routine is usually a good thing to do.
At the start of each lesson muscles are stretched and depending on the lesson plan some muscles may be stretched more than others.
When should I stretch?
Most times are ok to stretch but you should warm your muscles first. Cold muscles pull much more easily leading to injury. So a quick warm up such as shadow boxing can get the muscles ready for stretching.
Each time you stretch you should try to get a little more flexible. Set a goal and way to get there.