Most martial arts styles require some level of flexibility and therefore improving flexibility for martial arts will help you grow to new heights in your practice while still remaining safe from injury. While some people seem to have a natural ability to be flexible most of us need to work at improving our level of flexibility for martial arts. This article gives you a basic introduction of the types of information and training which professional martial artists carry out.
Doing stretches correctly will increase your flexibility but if they are done incorrectly you can actually cause more harm than good. It is important to remember that a large portion of injuries experienced in martial arts are caused by flexibility issues, mostly because the person does not have flexible muscles or fails to stretch the muscles properly before carrying out techniques.
So to get more flexible we need to learn how to do stretches correctly. The fundamental point regarding stretching techniques is that they can be either dynamic (involving motion) or static (those that involve no motion). The six main types of stretching which incorporate these are listed and discussed below.
Improving Flexibility for Martial Arts
First lets start by examining the different methods of stretching.
- Ballistic Stretching
- Dynamic Stretching
- Active Stretching
- Passive (or relaxed) Stretching
- Isometric Stretching
- PNF Stretching
Here you attempt to use the momentum of your weight to stretch beyond your normal comfort zone. Ballistic stretching involves bouncing to the end of your natural stretch and using the momentum of your weight to force you beyond your normal range of motion. An example of ballistic stretching is when you bounce up and down on your toes by bending your knees and stretching your hamstrings, then using the stretch to bounce back upright. In general Ballistic stretching is not considered helpful and may actually decrease your flexibility by not allowing your muscles to stretch into or relax in the stretched position.