Stretching and Flexibility

Watched some of the UFC 123 fights last Saturday and witnessed again with amazement the Rubber Guard. If you have not seen this, watch this video:

It is from Eddie Bravo and his 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system. Probably one of the most interesting grappling styles I have ever seen. It truly takes someone very flexible and skilled to get it to work, in my opinion.

Anyway, it made me start to think about stretching and how to become more flexible. Just like anything one takes up in life, flexibility is not necessarily genetic.  It is something that can take a long time to develop and refine.  Just like any martial arts training, it takes a high level of dedication and commitment to consistent practice to improve.

I consider myself to be a very flexible person but several years ago I had a sacral injury that seriously limited my flexibility in the hip and legs. That is terrible for a Taekwondo practitioner! I have to work extra hard to increase my flexibility again.  While working hard, I found the best way for me to stretching and increase my flexibility and I think it will be the best for you as well.  What I found is that a good warm up is KEY to making any gains in flexibility. I am not talking about doing a few jumping jacks and push-ups, starting to breath heavy and call it a warm up. I am talking about a heart rate elevating, sweat starting to run warm up. Once you get to this point, now you can start to stretch. You will find that your muscles have so much oxygen in them now and they are so warm that they will stretch much easier than they would have had you not done any of that.

My advise, spend at least five minutes with a heart rate at about 70% of maximum before you start to stretch. Don’t go much harder or you risk causing injury. Now, you can begin stretching the big muscle groups.  When you stretch hold each stretch for a minimum of twenty seconds, one minute is best.  Stretch the entire body from head to toe as one tight muscle can cascade through the muscles surrounding it.  Remember to breath through each stretch.  You should feel discomfort and tightness but not pain in your muscles as you stretch.

Good luck, I hope it helps you become a better martial artist.  While you are here check out our 12 Days of Christmas Sale going on now in the Special area of the site.

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