Stretching. One of those aspects of health and fitness that we all know we should be doing and can never seem to find the time, the right stretches, or see the benefits enough to do it on a regular basis. I was the same way for a long time. Starting MMA in my early 20’s I was pretty flexible in some areas of my body and very inflexible in others. I took my flexibility for granted and over-utilized it, especially in my lower back. Once I hit 30 (33 now) I noticed my injuries started to increase as my flexibility decreased. After a lower back injury that had me out for 6 weeks of training I decided to take on stretching 20 minutes a day as my “training” on the mat. I couldn’t spar or roll but I knew I needed something to have me feeling like I was moving myself towards my goals on a daily basis. I am so glad for that injury that led me to stretching as it has made a big difference.
I primarily do what is called passive stretching, where you get in a position and stay there anywhere from 30 seconds to multiple minutes and relax. This allows your muscles, joints, and tendons to relax as gravity takes effect and you slowly go deeper into the stretch. I like this method as I can do it as a stand-alone session, before training, or as a cool-down after training. Below are 6 of my favorite stretches that can help you in your martial arts journey. Check out the link at the bottom to watch the video explaining the stretches more in detail and to see them live. Stay flexible!
1. Pigeon Stretch -stretches your hip flexors and can relieve lower back pain
2. Over the Shoulder Stretch – you can do this stretch with or without a strap to stretch out the shoulders, especially after a hard kardio kickboxing class on the bag
3. Scorpion Shoulder Stretch – this weird looking stretch is for the front of your shoulders and pectoral muscles, these can be hard to reach places for man
4. Sumo Squat – One of the more challenging and beneficial positions, this aids in ankle, knee, hip, groin, and lower back mobility
5. Saddle Stretch – The many layers of this stretch focuses on your toes, ankles, knees, quadriceps (thighs), hip flexors, and even your lower back
6. Forward Fold – You have seen this for years and some are better at it than others. Stick with it to see hamstring and lower back freedom!
Watch the video and stretch along!!!