Stretching

April 2016


 

Stretching is often the most ignored aspect of fitness training. When people think of “getting in shape” they often think of weight lifting, cardiovascular conditioning and diet before they think of stretching. However, when children are young they are naturally flexible, while old people are often very stiff. Perhaps we can postpone many of the negative effects of old age, particularly stiffness and the pain that often arises from being inflexible, by engaging in regular stretching.

April 2016 Newsletter Stretching 1

We begin every karate class with specific stretching exercises drawn primarily from yoga, in order to warm up the body and prepare for vigorous training. The stretching routine we use allows the muscles to learn to relax into each stretch so that we become more flexible as we practice day by day. Many of the advanced kicks that we teach require an advanced level of flexibility that only comes with practice. You will notice that as you stretch out more you will be able to throw your basic kicks higher with less effort and more accuracy and power. You will also have better control of you kicks and your agility will improve dramatically.

April 2016 Newsletter Stretching 2
Like everything else in life, we can only get the full benefit of a stretching routine if we put in the full effort. We normally begin our warm up with jumping jacks or a similar callisthenic exercise to get the heart rate up and prepare the body for stretching. Next I like to stretch the back and then the legs because leg stretching is what increases the flexibility we need for kicking. We always take care to keep the pressure off the joints and isolate our stretching in the muscles.
All of the stretches we teach can be practiced at home between classes, provided that they are performed correctly.


© 2016 Shihan Robert H. Mason