Just about everyone who engages in any kind of sport knows the importance or stretching before and/or after engaging in physical activity. In those kinds of activities that require a lot of use of your legs, stretching is important in getting your legs ready for use.
There is some debate among those interested in the necessity of stretching regarding different types of stretching. Some say the swinging of the legs as part of the stretching is dangerous and can lead to injury. Others claim the opposite. There appears to be some evidence to support both sides.
But the importance of stretching of some type is not in question. Dynamic stretching appears to be the type that readies your legs for dynamic use. You should perform these stretches slowly in the beginning, gradually increasing both speed and range of motion.
There are also proponents on both sides of bending forward to stretch the back muscles. Some say this leads to injury of the vertebrae. Others suggest that may be so in the case of people with unhealthy backs, but not in the case of those with good backs. Still, in both cases, the importance of stretching is still there.
Range of motion increase is a part of the importance of stretching. Those joints that aren’t given attention through stretching to their full range of motion will lose some of that range. If that joint is then called on to do more than its range, injury will result.
Flexibility is key to kung fu. The importance of stretching comes clear when you consider the need for flexibility. Stretching brings on greater flexibility which then allows you to perform the techniques of kung fu more adequately.
Three types of flexibility are needed in kung fu: static passive, static active, and dynamic. Part of the importance of stretching is to increase flexibility.
Mastering splits isn’t important in kung fu. Being flexible allows you to do more without injury. A greater range of motion allows you to move without difficulty. You can work up slowly in trying to master splits, if that is your goal, so you can avoid injury. Static passive flexibility is required, as well as strength in all ranges it takes to get there.
Holding extended poses easily is mastered through static active flexibility. This kind of flexibility puts less strain on your system, so you can push yourself more. The flexibility that is a part of the importance of stretching is the kind you can use here.
Dynamic flexibility is used in mastering high kicks and keeping flexibility in motion. Once more, this kind of flexibility is part of the importance of stretching.
One aspect of achieving all you can from the importance of stretching is to warm up your muscles prior to stretching. If you stretch cold muscles, you increase the likelihood of injuries.
Shifu Raymond Ahles at Blue Dragon School of Martial Arts is ready and able to help you in learning proper stretching techniques in martial arts. He will monitor your training and sparring and make suggestions when he sees some area in which you may be lacking. Contact him at 201-385-3130 today and get started or started again!