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Martial Arts Stretches for Flexibility

written by: Nicky LaMarco • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 5/31/2011

Stretching is important for any exercise. Martial arts stretches will help you avoid injury and perform better. As a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I will show you my personal stretching plan used daily.

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    Start at the Top

    Stretching the neck is important because you will often be dodging and taking hits to the head, which moves your neck. While standing with your hands by your sides, look up. Allow your head to fall back and your chin to point to the ceiling. Pause. Move your chin towardyour chest and pause there for a moment. Look straight ahead and look left. Pause and look right. Next (after you look straight ahead again), lower your left ear toward your left shoulder. Repeat on the right. For the last neck stretch, roll your neck three times to the right and three times to the left. There are your martial arts neck stretches.

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    Arm Stretches

    Place your right arm across your chest and place your left hand just below the elbow. You should feel this in your upper arm and shoulder. Repeat on left arm.

    martial arts stretches 

    Touch your right shoulder with the back side of your right hand. Place your left hand on your right elbow and put your left forearm behind your head. You should feel the stretch in your upper arm and side. Repeat on other side.

    Martial arts stretches for your arms will help you punch and block.

    Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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    Core Stretches

    Standing straight, raise your arms up. Bend at the waist only and slowly. Imagine each verterbrae in your spine being decompressed as you slowly allow your hands to become closer to your feet. Take deep breaths to provide more oxygen to your muscles.Once you reach your limit, take a deep breath and stand up straight again. Next, put your hands together in a prayer position. Raise them above your head and bend at the waist in the other direction. In the first stretch you should feel it in your back. In the second you should feel it in your stomach. Keeping your hands in prayer position, raise your arms above your head. Bend again at your waist with your upper body moving to the left. Repeat on the other side. You'll feel this stretch in your sides.

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    Leg Stretches

    Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bending at the waist, reach toward the floor. This is to stretch the backs of your legs. Bring it back up and reach to your left foot with your nose as close to your knee as possible. Repeat on the other side. Bring it back up and return to the first position with your hands in between your legs, touching the floor. If you have to move your feet back a bit to touch the floor, go ahead. Scootch your feet outwards so you are in a split. Go as far as you can without pain. Bring it back up slowly. Turn to the left for a side split and lower to your left knee. Allow your right foot to slide forward as far as you can. Raise yourself slowly and repeat on the other side. For the next set of stretches, you will need to be sitting. Put your legs out straight in front of you and reach for your toes. Return to a sitting position and spread your legs as far as you can. Reach for your left foot with your nose as close to your knee as possible. This is a similar stretch to the one you do standing. Repeat on other side. Now lower your upper body in the middle, reaching your nose to the floor. Now, for the butterfly. Bend your knees and place the bottoms of your feet together. Push your knees toward the floor.

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    General Rules

    I make it a point to stretch everyday, usually at nighttime. I recommend this. It doesn't matter when you do it, but as a martial artist you should stretch to improve your flexibility at least once a day. Hold each stretch for at least ten seconds. You'll see results within days.