Like it or not
Honestly, who does!? Unfortunately though, stretching is an important part of any sport or martial art and becomes increasingly important as we get older.
What is it?
Anyone in involved in sport must know this, surely? However, for those who don’t, stretching is a physical exercise that aims to increase the range of motion (RoM) of a muscle group with the aim of increasing flexibility and preventing injury; pretty simple right? So why don’t we all do it on a regular basis?
Surely the stretching I do during class is enough?
Nope, probably not, unless you are young this is unlikely to keep you flexible. You really do need to stretch everyday if possible. I would call this preventative/maintenance stretching as it will help keep you injury free and you’ll also notice some flexibility gains.
Nah, that’ll take too long!
Hold a stretch for 30 seconds, three times… that’s it; 1.5 minutes per stretch! Do that at the end of the day every day and you’ll start noticing an improvement in your flexibility within a month. I would advise not to stretch in the morning without any warm up otherwise injuries might ensue.
It doesn’t have to be painful
The number of times you see people in visible pain, legs trembling when stretching is concerning. You don’t have to stretch to the point of pain and if you are then that’s your body telling you you’re going to far; you only need to feel a light to moderate stretch.
Stretching every day like this I find I’m looser, can strike with more power and generally feel better the day after classes. When you get older it’s important to stretch regularly to prevent injuries. If I don’t stretch for a couple of weeks my muscles start getting tighter and I feel more sluggish during class.
Do I need to be able to do the splits?
Some suggested stretches
There are so many, but the specific stretches you’ll do depends on the physical exercise you do, e.g. a runner won’t do the same stretches as a boxer does. The stretches that I recommend here then will be tailored to Tae Kwon Do:
But wait there’s more
Clearly this is a very small subset of stretches and there are a lot more, especially for the upper body which I have neglected here.
Great when do I start?
Today! Make sure you warm up though. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t notice immediate results. Honestly, for something that takes little effort and you can do in front of the TV it’s surprising more people don’t do it!