Martial Arts: Stretching

stretching split spagat

Stretching exercises have become an integral part of almost every sport. Whether in football, yoga, ballet, karate or other martial arts, just about everyone stretches.

Stretching not only improves mobility and flexibility, but is also believed to reduce the risk of injury, have a positive influence on muscle regeneration and reduce muscular imbalances.

Table of contents:

Stretching - improving mobility and agility


Furthermore, especially martial artists strive for high and wide kicks (e.g. Mawashi-Geri Jodan to the head of the opponent), which are only possible by extensive stretching stretching up to the cross and side splits. Depending on how the pelvis and thighbones are interlocked, it is also possible that, purely anatomically, you are not in a position to ever be able to do a side-split to the very bottom, but this should not be the goal of the whole thing.

Expanding the range of motion of individual muscles and joints can also prevent postural deformities and movement restrictions. If a bodybuilder, for example, trains the biceps a lot without stretching them, or neglects to train the opponent (in this case, the triceps) leads to the fact that the opponent can no longer extend the arm. Just like a footballer runs the risk of having to go through life with bow legs without stretching the thigh muscles. There are innumerable ways and different variations of how to stretch, stretch or stretch gymnastics. Here are some of them listed and explained in more detail.

For all stretching exercises the following applies: Warm up the muscles sufficiently beforehand, and do not want too much! Strains heal only slowly, and throw you further back than you could catch up in the short term.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching is best suited for performance preparation, after warm-up, for an imminent training session or competition. A stretching position is taken which does not cause too much stretching stimulus. In this position, springy movements are performed with a little momentum.

For example, if you go into a slight slide, lower your upper body towards the ground until you feel a slight pre-stretch. Now you bounce with the upper body a little bit up and down, or with the buttocks back and front, in order to first of all build up some tension and then release it again. Do this exercise for a certain period of time (15-30 seconds) and repeat it several times if necessary. Through the soft swinging / springy movements, any existing tension is released, muscles and pathways are activated, and inter-muscular coordination is trained.

Static stretching

kraken.jpgStatic stretching involves bringing the desired muscle group into a stretching position or putting it under tensile stress. This tension of the muscles is held for a certain period of time (15-30 seconds or longer), and then released again. This procedure is repeated several times (2-3 times) to achieve a stretching effect. In order to become more flexible in the long term, i.e. to increase the stretching range of the muscles and tendons in question, stretching must above all be done regularly.

Depending on the anatomy and predisposition, positive stretching results are completely different for each person training. The age of the trainee, the physical constitution or especially the muscle mass also play an important role. A large muscle may need more time to adapt than a smaller one. One should not be discouraged in any case, and continuously keep at it, and not set oneself too big goals. During stretching in static stretching, the blood supply in the tissue involved is significantly reduced. Therefore this method is not particularly suitable for performance preparation for an upcoming training session or competition. Static stretching can be divided into several types:

1.) Passive static
In passive-static stretching, a stretching position is brought about and maintained by external forces. For example, you lie on your back with your buttocks against a wall and your legs up. Now you bring your legs stretched out and let gravity take effect and try to relax. This method is considered to be particularly gentle, but also not very effective in achieving a stretching effect.

2.) Active static
During active-static stretching, the antagonist muscle of the stretched muscle (agonist) is tensed to the maximum. An example of this is a popular exercise for stretching the back thigh. The athlete lies on his back with his legs bent, grabs one leg, stretches it and pulls it towards the chest. During the stretching process, the front of the thigh is tensed.

3.) PIR (post-isometrische Relaxation) / CHRS (engl. Contract-Hold-Relax-Stretch)
The PIR method involves working on the muscle with tension and relaxation. The muscle is tensed before stretching, the tension is released after a short hold, and statically stretched. For example, you place your stretched leg on a wall, work your upper body (make sure your back is straight) towards your thigh, as if you wanted to place your navel on your upper thigh.

When the stretching position is reached, stay for a short time (5-10 seconds), then tense the stretched muscle as much as possible as if you wanted to push the wall towards the floor. Release this tension after a few seconds and relax. One should not be too stiff on a stretching method. A combination of tension-relaxation and active static stretching is probably the most effective.

Stretching exercises - splits / straddle

Stretching SplitA popular and simple variant of stretching the thighs and adductor area is the straddle. This exercise can be performed both dynamically and statically.

This also results in further exercise variations in which the upper body is tilted towards the floor or the elbows are placed on the floor. This way you can adjust the stretching region and the load.

Stretching SpagatTurning the upper body and working towards the thighs is also one of the many possibilities. Whether static or more dynamic with light spring movements is up to you. You should not commit yourself too much to one or the other type of exercise, but experiment a little and do the exercise a little differently.

As always, the important thing is not to overdo it and to dose everything well. The stretching pain should be bearable, and not too strong, so that you tense up. Keep breathing deeply and try to relax.

Training equipment that supports stretching

stretching with pulley blockThere are some training devices that support stretching and make some exercises more effective, especially when no training partner is around to actively support the stretching process. An example for such a training device training device is a pulley, which is attached to the ceiling like a punching bag punching bag.

With the help of such a pulley you can stretch the thigh, calf and lumbar muscles as well as the adductors wonderfully without a training partner. Another advantage is that you can regulate the desired stretching intensity yourself.

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A so-called leg spreader leg spreader can also help to get into the side splits or straddles. By pulling the handle in the middle of the device towards you, the legs are actively pushed outwards. There are also other variants where a crank or a kind of steering wheel is in the middle, with which the desired intensity can be adjusted. The strength of the stretch can also be very well dosed with this training device. This minimizes the risk of injury from a strain caused by a jerky or too hard strain on the corresponding muscles and tendons. It is important to keep the back as straight as possible and try to move forward with the navel.

stretching split spagatAnother advantage of the training device is that you can also use it in the living room, for example, and fold it up after use and store it in a space-saving way.

I wish you a lot of fun and a pleasant stretching pain. 🙂

Author: Sascha from

Author: Sascha

Some words about myself. My name is Sascha - i'm a software developer, trader and martial artist from germany. Besides programming, trading and martial arts some of my interests and hobbies are cooking, fitness and hearing loud heavy metal music. :D

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