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Martial Arts Flexibility

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You've heard for years that stretching is a must before a workout. For martial arts flexibility, it means the difference between having an injury free training career or being constantly plagued with aches and pains.

So before pounding the matte, read this article from Bart Anderson.

Does stretching prevent injuries?

There has been a lot of attention recently in the media about whether or not stretching can prevent injuries. I have seen a lot of traffic on blogs and major news websites regarding this issue. Like every issue, there are always two sides. And unfortunately, neither one seems to be able to make a compelling enough argument to definitively answer the question.

A recent article in the NY Times was clear as mud when it comes to answering this question. Basically it comes down to making a personal decision whether to stretch or not. You can find all kinds of research that says it doesn't help, and just as much that says it does.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to stretching. I have always recommended stretching to my athletes and patients. I tell them to stretch before and after practice. I do this not necessarily to prevent injuries for that specific practice, but to get them to develop a normal routine of stretching.

Muscle injuries are going to occur. If there was a sure-fire way to prevent them, I would have a whole lot fewer patients in my clinic every week. But, from clinical experience, poor flexibility can result in abnormal stresses on the body's tissues. That can lead to overuse injuries and abnormal movement patterns.

mens flexibility

So, recommending stretching to my patients is more about long term flexibility and preventing abnormal movement patterns than the acute muscle strain. For prevention of acute injuries, I believe a good warm up prior to activity is much more effective than stretching alone.

The other thing to remember when you are going through a stretching program is that static stretching is not nearly as effective as functional stretching. The difference? Static stretching usually places a muscle in its longest position and then stretches it for 30-45 seconds. Functional stretching tries to achieve a muscle position that is not in its longest state, and the stretch is held for a much shorter time...2-5 seconds.

Functional stretching more closely replicates the stresses placed on tissues during activities, and it helps to restore normal movement patterns. I use functional stretching with my patients everyday, and I have seen the results. It restores normal movement patterns and it helps to reduce abnormal stresses on the joints.

Whether you stretch regularly or not, flexibility does have its place in athletic performance. Adding a good stretching routine incorporating a proper warm up and some functional stretching could improve your performance and help reduce abnormal movement patterns and stress on your joints and muscles. It may even prevent some muscle strains.

Remember though, it isn't necessarily when you stretch, but that you do.

About the Author:

Bart Anderson is a certified athletic trainer and assistant professor of Athletic Training at A.T. Still University in Mesa Arizona. He is the creator of Sports Injury Info, an informational website dedicated to sports injuries, their treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation. Bart holds a Masters of Science Degree in Sports Health Care, and is certified by the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

Martial Arts Flexibility is an important aspect to your training. The younger we are, the less emphasis we place on stretching, and we manage to get away with it.

But as you get older, stretching to maintain martial arts flexibility is the single most important part of your training regimen. It can keep you young well into your dottage.

I find that many women tend to maintain their flexibility from childhood much longer than men. If you make stretching part of your daily wake up routine, you reap a huge benefit to your martial arts flexibility which will help every kicking technique that exists.

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