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Stretching: What is the difference and how can we do it better?

stiffness from working at computerHow many times have you come to class and your body has felt stiff or tight in places? You should probably spend some more time stretching out since it is a great way to warm up. Stretching will also contribute to your recovery process and possibly help you reduce injuries.  Increased flexibility can also increase your kicking power.  Since stretching is a fairly general term this post will stick with static and dynamic stretching. 

Static vs Dynamic Stretching

Static stretching simply means to hold a position for a given time to lengthen a muscle. Dynamic stretching is active movements that stretch but do not hold an end position. Both have a time and a place in your training which you can read about below.

During your warm-up it’s best to include dynamic movements that have your joints go through the full range of motion. As you move you will feel your heart rate and blood flow increase so keep  a smooth steady pace. You could even flow from one movement to the next to introduce a bit of play to your routine. The goal is to move your entire body since most of us sit for the majority of the day.

This is a great example of some dynamic movement and stretching.

Another example of dynamic stretching but focusing on the hips

Static Stretching

Once your workout for the day is over it’s time to do some static stretching.  You will want to hold each position for at least 30 seconds and up to 2-5 minutes each side.  This will help lengthen your muscles and get you loosened back up. Try and stretch all your major muscle groups and repeat any areas that still feel tight. You will be surprised to find how often a muscle is contributing to some other nagging pain in your body. Simple yoga poses can really help you get into a static position.  

At the very least you should stretch the following areas:

Standing Calf Stretching Against a Wall

Standing Calf Stretch Against a Wall

Hamstring Stretching

Hamstring Stretch

 

Thorax and Spinal Stretching

Thorax, Shoulder and Spinal Stretches

Arm Stretching

Arm Stretches

Neck Stretching

Neck Stretches

Image Credits: Stiff BackCalves, Hamstring, Spine & Shoulders, Arms, Neck

About

I got my start in the study of Jeet Kune Do back in the mid 90’s and after a break to pursue school and career goals I found my way back to the Martial Arts and joined Syracuse Martial Arts Academy. As I have grown as a student I began to educate myself in different aspects of health and fitness as I feel its something everyone can benefit from.

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