In my years as a martial arts instructor and flexibility coach, I've learned that flexibility is the #1 thing that people like to make excuses for not doing. "You're either born with it or you aren't", "I tried stretching and I couldn't get anywhere", "I'm too old to start working on flexibility training". Have you said any of these sentences to anyone before? If so, it's okay!
Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad information out there when it comes to flexibility training and without proper guidance, you're going to put yourself in a lot of pain with little to no reward.
I want to help set you on the right path, so I've put together 5 Misconceptions Martial Artists Have About Flexibility Training.Let's get started, shall we?
You're either born flexible or you aren't.
It can get pretty discouraging when you see all these 12 year old gymnast girls telling you how to get flexible before going into crazy positions that you can't even imagine yourself doing in your head, much less with your body. I would be lying to you if I said that genetics didn't play a role in flexibility development. But just like with anything else, hard work can get you there as well...it just might take a little more time. I have a student who is no natural athlete, but with a few months of private lessons with me, he now has full splits, strong high kicks, and is one of the best performers in the dojang. It is possible to improve flexibility even if it doesn't come natural. It just takes proper training, consistency, and drive!
Being super flexible decreases my strength & power
This is one of my favorite things to hear from people looking to find a reason why they can't improve flexibility. Have you seen ballet dancers?! How about gymnasts?! Not only are they INCREDIBLE flexible, but have INSANE strength in their legs. I believe this rumor comes from the incorrect idea that stretching is just sitting on the floor reaching for your toes. There's also dynamic stretching, isometric stretching, PNF stretching, and ballistic stretching. Dynamic stretching uses movement so that you had functionality to your muscles.
In myFunctional Flexibility course, I go in depth on how to combine the different types of stretching so that you can kick higher/more comfortable without sacrificing your strength & speed, and also seeing results MUCH faster!. The results have been nothing short of incredible and so many people are seeing the flexibility results that they've been chasing for years. You can find out more information, including testimonials from students here!
I'm too old to improve my flexibility
I'm always honest with my audience. I'm not here to sell you a false narrative that 60 year-olds are going to be able to do vertical kicks. As we get older, our bodies start to stiffen up. I wish I could change that, but I can't. But while your days of going into full splits may possibly be over, that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't improve your flexibility. Having flexibility is so much more than being able to simply do a high kick or go into a split. It's about having more freedom in your body. It's being able to move more comfortably. And it's about preventing yourself from stiffening up any further to the point where simple tasks become increasingly difficult. No matter your age, these are all things that anyone of any age can improve.
Now, sometimes the people telling me they're too old are people in their twenties...and I just have to laugh. There's no way you're too old to improve flexibility! Get your butt on the floor and get to work 😉.
I can throw my leg up head level...what more do I need?
There's a big difference between throwing something up somewhere, and being able to put it there with control. Dynamic vs. static stretching comes into play here again. You may have a good amount of dynamic flexibility (which is good!), but without implementing more static, you'll only ever be able to throw something up, which could improve your risk of injury and most likely cause your technique to suffer. Combining static stretching with your dynamic stretching will allow you to place your kick however you want with ease.
There's not enough beginner friendly content out there for people
Unfortunately, this isn't entirely a misconception. It's very true that a lot of the videos out there are geared toward people who already have a certain level of flexibility. I even have to hold myself accountable when it comes to this. As content creators, it's hard to understand exactly what a person needs because everyone is at different levels. The term "beginner" varies depending on who you ask!
What I will say is that, just because you can't do a stretch just like the person in the video, doesn't mean it's not a good stretch for you. You just have to go as deep as YOU can into the stretch. If the person in the video is all the way to the floor, that doesn't mean you have to be. Always take things at your own pace and perform the stretches to the best of YOUR capability.
My Functional Flexibility course has information suited for all levels, as well as three workouts. One is designed for beginners, one intermediate, and one advanced!