If you’re a high-energy action junky or can’t see the benefit of a proper stretch, because it eats into your training, then think again.

Stretching lengthens your muscles and increases your range of motion and it benefits people of all ages.

It is important to continue to stretch daily and really important as you enter the latter years of your life.  It increases the blood flow to your muscles, which brings nourishment and rids your muscles of waste by-products in the muscle tissue.

Stretching gives you a better posture and aids your muscles from feeling tight minimizing discomfort and keeps aches and pains at a minimum. It gives tight muscles stress relief and enhances your body’s ability to co ordinate.

If you don’t stretch your body is more susceptible to injury.  Performing high kicking techniques without stretching not only feels restrictive but could render you inactive due to torn ligaments…

There are different types of stretching:

Static Stretching

A small volume of static stretching (relaxing your body into a stretch and holding it there by the weight of your body or some external resistance) would probably not be detrimental, but at the same time too much of this type of stretching before competition can be detrimental. We know what you are saying right now. We must be crazy.

Everyone knows you stretch before you perform an intensive activity like fighting. You are correct, but the right type of stretching is crucial for performance enhancement.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching (moving body parts in a controlled manner with gradual increases in range and speed of movement) is the preferred method before performing dynamic activities. We save the static stretches for post workout.

If you are involved in Martial Arts particularly traditional Martial Arts, you have been exposed to the slow stretching regimen for years. As we pointed out earlier, this type of stretching is fine and can be conducive when performed at the right times in the right doses.

Below we have provided a few reasons why excessive amounts of passive static stretching are contraindicated before engaging in combat.

Why Passive Static Stretching Before Combat

1.Relaxation of the nervous system

2.Mild fatigue

3.Decreased coordination

4.Decreased agility

5.Decrease in quickness

6.Weakens the stretch reflex

All of the above qualities are side effects of the relaxation of the nervous system – which is responsible for all movements. As you can see from the above information, if the nervous system is relaxed there is no way you can perform at optimal levels.

Static stretches performed post fight or workout can offer the trainee positive benefits such as mental relaxation, calming of the nervous system, specific static flexibility and enhanced recovery.

On the other hand, dynamic range of motion stretching is just what the doctor ordered before intense physical activity. The following are some benefits that can be expected with a proper DROMS program.

Benefits From DROMS Programs:

1.Increased neural firing

2.Coordination

3.Stability

4.Muscle lengthening

5.Improved body awareness

6.Balance

7.Improved agility and quickness

Isometric Stretching

Isometric stretching (use positions similar to those in static passive stretching and adding strong tensions of stretched muscles) is another type of stretching that we should briefly mention.

The benefits of this type of stretching are particularly important for grapplers. Grapplers require great static strength to enhance their ability to hold certain moves. Static holds with weights and isometric stretching can improve this quality.

When performing static holds with weight simply hold a weight in a particular angle that stretches the intended muscle and joint. An example would be to sit at the bottom of a front squat or overhead squat while holding weight. Another example would be to find a heavy partner and have him lay in your guard while putting pressure on you as this heavily stretches the hips and the posterior chain. Be cautious when using these techniques.

All of the stretches mentioned above can have positive effects concerning performance. Adequate flexibility (your ability to move your joints through their intended full range of motion without a large decrease in absolute strength) is necessary for athletes to perform at optimal levels.

As stated above it is of utter most importance that athletes understand what types of flexibility is most needed for their sport. Do not forget that the manner in which the athlete performs should also be taken into consideration when developing a flexibility program.

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