Improve your flexibility

Why bother with strething?  Having flexible muscles will improve your karate–a better range of movement, better form, less stiffness and fewer injuries. All the good karateka within the club have planned ‘Static’ stretching routines.

There are two basic types of stretches. If you want to warm up you should be using Dynamic stretches, moving fluidly from one stretch to another, so you are prepared for an energetic karate workout. On the other hand, Static stretches, where you hold a muscle in a position for a given duration, do not prepare the body for movement, but they are great for improving flexibility. Do not use static stretches for a warm up: use them at the end of your workout session as part of your cool-down. However, it can be good to do static stretching at home. Although we joke about it in the club, we are serious when we say you can do your static stretching watching the TV!

If your aim is just to keep everything mobile then you should be holding each static stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds. This will counter the tightening effect of your workout. If your aim is to improve your flexibility you need to hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds. When you are in discomfort, 30 seconds can seem a long time, so like any other aspect of your training it takes practice and some dedication.

The method we teach in the club combines static stretching with controlled deep breathing and done properly this will improve your karate tremendously as well as helping you to relax both physically and mentally. Typically, you need 20 minutes for a static stretching session, and three such sessions a week would fairly quickly show through in your karate.

The holiday period is a great time to start a programme of practising at home. Sunday mornings at the dojo focus on stretching routines and the club has a wealth of knowledge to help you develop your own stretching routines.
Here, Sensei Michelle demonstrates 3 stages of a static stretch. Take your time, breathe and relax, but accepting you must work through discomfort but not pain.


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