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Stretching: The Truth About the Matter

March 9, 2017

         Ok guys!! We have testing (March 25th) and a tournament (April 1st) right around the corner and that means it is time to WORK, WORK, WORK!!! We are settled in at the new location and are ready to get down to some serious business! We’ve got a busy month ahead and want to do everything we can to help you grow and excel at your rank.



         One thing that everyone should be doing daily, kid or adult, is STRETCHING!!



         *Stretching increases your efficiency and performance.


         *Decreases your risk of injury by loosening tight muscles           and allowing greater range of motion.


         *Increases speed in sparring and makes motions sharper           in your pattern.


         *Improves your posture and balance.


         *Decreases lower back pain.


         *And RAISES those kicks!



         Even if you are sore from an intense workout the night before, no excuses!! Gentle stretching will help alleviate the soreness and speed up recovery.


         I CAN NOT possibly stress enough how important this is to becoming a strong, well rounded martial artist. Balance, motions, stances and kicks are all influenced by our flexibility. 15-30 extra minutes of stretching everyday could mean the difference between waist high kicks and head high kicks. Something as simple as that can make a huge difference in how you perform during testing and tournaments.


          Sure, we stretch in class but let’s say you attend three classes next week? Ok? And we stretch 10-15 before each class and do some easy cool down stretches at the end of class…. you have totaled about an hour of stretching a week, broken into phases over a few days, with recovery in between and that is just not going to do it guys! Let’s aim for twice that amount in a week!! Or even THREE TIMES THAT AMOUNT! Progressively increasing your stretching can kick your TKD Game Up A Notch!!


         You should incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Work at a desk all day? Get up and stretch. You can even tilt your toes back and stretch your calves without ever leaving your desk. Watching TV with the family in the evening? Take a seat on the floor and work on your stretches! The family that stretches together stays together, right?? Or something like that….  Maybe you do better with a schedule, set aside some time when you first wake up or right before bed to do some stretching exercises.


         Before any intense stretching, like including the use of resistance bands, ankle weights or just really pushing your stretch farther than you are accustom to, we encourage you to do a few minutes of light exercise to help warm those muscles up, and possibly prevent injury. Consider jogging, jumping jacks, or a few sets of alternating push-ups and sit ups.


         Now let’s talk a minute about what an actual STRETCH is. By definition stretching means to, “make something wider or longer by pulling it.” If you go into a stretch and feel no discomfort??? You are not stretching, you are POSING, or relaxing or napping or something????  While training with Grand Master McNeely you will hear him say, “fire plus ten, burn through the wall” in reference to exercise reps. Meaning don’t just push yourself to your comfort zone and quit but go BEYOND what is comfortable. That is when you make progress! In drills this would mean doing enough repetitions that you could “feel the burn” then push through for ten more reps. This applies to stretching too! Push just beyond where you are comfortable, feel the stretch at work and then hold for an additional slow ten count.


         Below we will demonstrate some good stretches you can use at home. Remember: 1. Warm up 2. Go beyond what is comfortable 3. Aim for 15+ minutes a day  4. Start with stretching the spine and work out toward your extremities, concentrating on one area at a time.


Exhibit A: Our lovely model Rebekah is demonstrating three variations of the same stretch. Front leg folded and back leg outstretched behind you, start with back straight, you can even lean back a little. This stretches the hip flexor of the straight leg.


 Exhibit B: As you start to lean forward you are stretching the glute of the front leg. 


Exhibit C: Depending on how flexible you are, continue to east forward. The goal is to eventually be able to lay flat against the front leg and floor. 


Hold each position 20-30 seconds. Alternate legs. You can do each leg a couple of times to work hip, glute and lower back.



Next we have the Straddle Stretch. Sit on floor, legs spread as far apart as you can get them. Now spend 20-30 seconds leaning Left, Right and to the Center, holding at each position. The goal is to reach as far out towards your foot, or the center as you can while holding the stretch. This works the hamstring and lower back. 


After one or two repetitions in each direction, try to spread your legs a little wider and repeat the drill for all three positions.




Mr. Bourgeois demonstrates our next stretch...


Sumo Stretch. This stretch helps open the hips up. Crouch as far as you can while stile holding your weight off the ground and press your elbows to the inside of your knees/thighs, pressing your legs apart. Hold for 30 seconds or longer.



Side Inner Thigh Stretch. Bend one leg at the knee, keeping that foot flat while extending the other leg in the opposite direction. You can do this in several different ways. First, keep the side of the extended foot against the floor (as pictured) while pressing the bent knee out with the elbow. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds for each repetition. Now twist your extended foot up on the heal, toes pointed toward the ceiling and hold again. Alternate legs and repetitions of each drill. 



Standing Hamstring Stretch. Using your dresser, table top, couch, whatever you have handy, place one heal waist level, leaning forward to feel the stretch in the hamstring. You can hold 30 seconds while leaning as far into the stretch as you can, flexing the toe up and pointing the toe forward. Alternate legs and repetitions.




       You can practice your pattern 4 hours a week. Your sparring drills 6 hours a week. Yet if you are not stretching at home, away from class and putting as much focus on flexibility as you do technique, you are doing yourself an injustice.  


       Don't set out to make huge gains in flexibility all at once, that would only lead to injury. But set up a realistic routine and push yourself a little farther as you go and soon you will be seeing improvements across the board!



Do This:




Not This:


  (we may work up to this ;)



    Keep an eye out for more stretching guidelines in future post. We will share some equipment ideas you may be interested in to take your stretching and flexibility further, tips for treating healing sore muscles (which might come in handy after circuit drills like you guys did in tonights class, right? Ya'll ROCKED the HOUSE/MATS)  and MORE!! 


Keep up the great work!! 


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