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The 10 Best Stretches for Kickboxing

Kickboxing, a form of martial arts with both punching and kicking, can be a vigorous activity that combines strength, flexibility, and cardio. With a good stretching routine, you can perform this high-energy workout without worrying about injury and delayed onset muscle soreness, while enhancing your kickboxing ability. 

Muscles Used in Kickboxing

Since kickboxing utilizes both kicks and punches, it is undoubtedly a full-body workout. The primary muscle groups in the upper body, such as the pectorals, serratus, triceps, and deltoids, all contribute to punching with force. In the legs, the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings all contribute to kicking with power. 


Even though nearly all your muscles are used in kickboxing, each movement indicates primary and secondary muscular engagement that can help dictate your performance level and injury risk.

What are Common Kickboxing Injuries

Bruises are one of the most common kickboxing injuries, as the force impact from your leg or hand to either a bag, pad, or someone else’s body, can be injurious and cause swelling or inflammation. 


In addition, the amount of twisting, turning, and rapid fire movements can cause sprains to key joints, such as the knee, ankle, and elbow, as well as muscle strains to the quadriceps or abdominals. 

Kickboxing Injury Prevention

Kickboxing often finds you in unpredictable body positions, making injury prevention techniques mandatory. Incorporating both a pre-workout and post-workout routine that includes foam rolling and stretching are the two best injury prevention methods.


The high-intensity nature of kickboxing can lead to muscle tightness and limited mobility, and foam rolling with your Yoga Strong Roller can help release built-up tension, while stretching techniques restore range of motion to tight or sore muscles. 

Best Kickboxing Stretches

If you’re looking to optimize your kickboxing performance and reduce your risk of injury, these are the 10 best kickboxing stretches for you to try. 

10. Arm Swings

Strong punches in kickboxing mean you need strong and mobile shoulders. Using arm swings as a dynamic warm-up encourages mobility in your shoulders, chest, and lats to keep healthy when kickboxing.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your arms by your sides.
  2. When ready, raise your arms in front of you and start to make big circles going clockwise with your arms. 
  3. With control, pretend like you’re touching every digit on the clock (12,1,2,etc.) 
  4. Repeat clockwise 5x through, then switch directions and perform the arm circles counterclockwise. 

9. Leg Curls

Hamstring and quad activation is key when stretching for kickboxing. With leg curls, this dynamic movement will also get your heart rate up, making it a great warm-up exercise. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Begin standing, feet shoulder width apart. 
  2. To start, lightly jog in place to get going..
  3. Then, go ahead and kick your heel behind you towards  your butt with each step.
  4. Once you have the motion down, start moving forward while doing the leg curls.

8. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

The kneeling hip flexor stretch helps bring unrestricted, pain free movement to the hip and upper leg. This allows your knee to have more freedom, increasing your ability to perform kickboxing moves efficiently. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start in a half kneel position on your Yoga Strong Mat with your right leg in front, and your left leg down
  2. Then, drive your left hip forward so your right knee comes over your toes.
  3. After that, return to neutral starting position and lunge forward again, repeating this sequence 10x each leg.


7. Sumo Stretch

Now that you’ve addressed the front hip with the kneeling hip flexor stretch, sumo squats will target the inner/outer hips. Since your pelvis is on a ring, stretching the inside and outside of the hip is crucial to staying loose for kickboxing. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and hips and your toes slightly turned out. 
  2. Now that you’re ready, slowly squat down while keeping your hips pushed back and your chest up. Your knees should also be pulled out, and not caved in. 
  3. Then, stand back up to return to the starting position and repeat 10x. 
  4. If you need assistance keeping your knees pulled out, use Yoga Strong Bands around your knees  to aid with the movement.

6. Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstrings not only inhibit your kickboxing workout, but also put your knee at risk of injury. With this hamstring stretch, you should feel an immediate improvement in your flexibility. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Starr standing with your right foot 3-6 inches in front of your left
  2. When ready, you’ll keep your right heel on the ground, and lift the toes and midfoot off the ground and point the toes towards the sky
  • Now, place both hands on your hips and hinge/lean forward at your hip so your torso is close to parallel to the ground.
  • Breathe and hold for 30 seconds and switch legs 

5. Rotating Stomach and Core Stretch

In order to keep the spine healthy for kickboxing, you need both mid back stretches and abdominal stretches to stay extensible. Also one of the recommended boxer stretches, the rotating stomach and core stretch helps loosen up the abdominal muscles and allow you to move freely during your kickboxing workout. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Lie face down on your Yoga Strong Mat with your hands next to your shoulders.
  2. Then, start to press up from your hands with an arched spine,  while keeping your hips, knees, and feet on the ground.
  3. Next, slightly bend your left elbow and rotate your left shoulder to the ground.
  4. At the same time, look towards the right to feel the stretch on the left side.
  5. Hold for 10 seconds and switch sides. 

4. Leg Swings Forward and back

Leg swings are both a dynamic stretch and a compound movement that emphasizes mobility in the hip and hamstring. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing on the left side of a chair, wall, or other support. Use your right hand for support.
  2. When ready, begin to swing your right leg forward and up towards your hip height, while keeping the leg straight. 
  3. Then, once you hit your maximum point, swing back down and behind you, bringing your right leg as far back into hip extension as you can go.
  4. Repeat 10 swings each leg.

3. Lateral Lunges

Kickboxing requires movement in all directions, making it especially important to stretch in a multitude of directions. With lateral lunges, you can effectively stretch the groin and activate the outside hip to help you move laterally without restriction.  


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing in a wide base, with your feet wider than shoulder width. 
  2. To begin, bend your right knee and hip for depth and horizontally, while maintaining an elongated straight left leg.
  3. Return to starting position, then lunge laterally to the opposite side, repeating this sequence 10x each side. 
  4. Remember, you should feel a nice pull into the groin of the elongated leg. If not, make a wider stance. 

2. Lunge Twists

Lunge twists are a fantastic full body mobility stretch. Since kickboxing utilizes both upper body and lower body fast twitch muscles, the connection between upper body and lower body in this stretch helps reduce tension in both your hip flexors and chest muscles.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing, and lunge your right foot out in front of you. 
  2. Next, drop your left hand to the ground while maintaining an engaged back leg. 
  3. Then, twist from your torso and raise your right arm to the sky. 
  4. To be stable, make sure your left hand is planted firmly and your right knee isn’t caving in. 
  5. Breathe and hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. 

1. Standing Straddle Stretch

The standing straddle stretch mimics the traditional deadlift exercise, but is able to hit the adductors because of the straddle position. This gives the standing straddle stretch a bit more effectiveness towards achieving better flexibility for kickboxing.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing in a wide legged stance, with your feet wider than shoulder width.
  2. Once in position, cross your arms across your chest and bend forward at your waist and push your hips back. Be careful not to round your spine. 
  3. Then, when your spine is parallel to the ground, breathe and hold for 30 seconds.

Benefits of Stretching for Kickboxers

If you are a kickboxer, you are an athlete. And have you noticed that any time you watch athletes on tv, they’re stretching before the game? That’s because stretching is proven to have numerous benefits, including but not limited to injury prevention, heightened energy levels, enhanced performance, and accelerated recovery. 


If the best athletes in the world stretch regularly, and you’re an athlete, then you should stretch too! 


References:


Static vs. dynamic stretching: What are they and which should you do? Hospital for Special Surgery. (n.d.). https://www.hss.edu/article_static_dynamic_stretching.asp 

Flexibility exercises for young athletes - orthoinfo - aaos. OrthoInfo. (n.d.). https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/flexibility-exercises-for-young-athletes/