By Mich Andrews
Reaching a good level of proficiency in hand to hand combat, contact sports and martial arts training requires a high degree of flexibility. How can we improve our flexibility and our performance?
Stretching is the tried and tested method for gradually improving flexibility over time but it most be performed with due care and attention or you could end up pulling more muscles than you thought you had. As martial artist we all suffer now and again form sore muscles that have been pulled and strained and developing a decent stretching routine will go a long way to preventing this. It might not rule out pulls forever but it should mitigate extreme reactions.
By flexibility we are talking about a range of movement around our joints and stretching allows us to push beyond that normal range of movement. Stretching allows to push our default range of movement to higher level creating more freedom and reach in our moves.
It is said that our natural ability to reach or move in certain ways is restricted by our genetic make-up. Well, maybe so, but we can all improve if we want to, no matter what position we may be in now.
The key with stretching is controlled movements not bounces or jerks. You mustn’t move into a stretch suddenly. don’t surprise your body with an unprepared move as this will be more likely result in a tear or a damaged muscle. A gradual easing into a stretch is the best way followed by slow and smooth movements.
You can begin to help your general flexibility each day by:
- Being aware of your posture at work and during the day particularly if you have an office or desk job and acting to prevent stiffness.
- Walking consciously and keeping yourself upright rather than stooping or shuffling – good for a confident demeanour too.
- Stretching out your muscles each morning before you start your day, to get rid if any lingering stiffness from sleep.
The more flexible you become the more you extend you natural range of movement and the more impact this will have in your hand to hand combat training, your martial arts training and your self defence moves.
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