Are you having a hard time stretching? Not seeing the amount of progress you’d like to? In my time as an instructor both in person and on the internet, I hear all too often how people are stretching every single day but not seeing the results they want, so I’ve compiles a list of mistakes that I see a lot of people make when stretching!
Doing Too Much, Too FastEveryone wants to be able to do the crazy splits, so their stretching routine is literally them forcing themselves into splits as low as they can go while being in excruciating pain, tensing their muscles, not getting any results, and greatly increasing their risk of injury. When you’re trying to improve flexibility, it is so important to start off with light stretches that you’re able to get into with relative ease and hold for a period of time. Your muscles should be relaxed when stretching because when you tense, they are not able to stretch because they’ve been stiffened up. Even though I’m super flexible, I still start off with light stretches to avoid injury.
Not Warming UpThink about a sheet of metal. When it’s cold, it does not bend much, if at all…but when you heat it up it is much easier to move and bend. While our bodies aren’t exactly metal (although that’d be pretty sick), they will also not stretch as easily when cold. We’ve gotta heat them up! You’ll be amazed how much deeper you can go into a stretch if you simply warm up first!
Only Doing One Type Of StretchingMost people are only familiar with static stretching where you sit in a position for an extended period of time. If you want functional flexibility, which means you’ll actually be able to freely move the muscles normally, you need to add in some dynamic stretching as well. Dynamic stretching is stretching with movement and is critical if you want long lasting flexibility. If you’re in a sport like martial arts, dance, etc that requires you to be able to move your legs freely, dynamic stretching is a MUST!
Leave a comment if you’d like to see a blog post on the different types of stretching!
4. Lazy Stretching
I can’t tell you how many times I see people on their phone, passively just reaching their hand toward their foot and not really pushing themselves. While stretching shouldn’t typically cause you excruciating pain, it should be a little challenging! Really push yourself to a point where you’re feeling a good stretch and try to go further and further the more you relax into it!
5. Mindless Stretching
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Please think about what you’re doing when you’re stretching. Being a martial artist, I do stretches that specifically target the muscles I need to be able to kick the way that I want to. Don’t just copy a stretching routine you saw on a Youtube video or that your coach had you do. Think about what your flexibility goals are. What parts of your body are really stiff? After evaluating what you need, formulate a routine of stretches that target the areas you really need to open up in order to obtain your goals!
And there you have it! Five stretching mistakes you’re probably making as a martial artist. Let me know what your biggest mistake is from this list in the comments below? And if you’d like to keep up with future blog posts, please subscribe to my email list!
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