Your Bag(0)

Your cart is empty - let us help you get what you need.

Recommended Pro Tip

Add this for the most luxurious workout experience.

Recommended

The 10 Best Stretches for Martial Arts Flexibility

Stretching before martial artis is extremely important. Your body must be strong enough to deliver blows with force, while being flexible enough to move through a full range of motion. 

Muscles Used in Martial Arts

man using abdominal muscles to kick

Credit: Black Belt Mag

While the easy answer to the muscles used in martial arts is all muscles, the major muscles that martial arts athletes should focus on include: 


  • Core Muscles - Abdominals, Obliques, Hip Flexors
  • Lower Body Muscles - Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes
  • Upper Body Muscles - Pectorals, Lats, Serratus, Deltoids

Although we did not mention muscles such as the biceps, triceps, and calf muscles, this does not negate their use, as martial arts requires the entire body working synergistically to be effective. 

Common Martial Arts Injuries

fighter injuring foot during mma match

 

Credit: Book Martial Arts

Common martial arts injuries fall into two categories -

  1. External Forces - In combat sports, you are vulnerable to bruises and contusions from contact.
  2. Overuse - Athletes undergo rigorous training techniques to optimize for peak performance, leaving you prone to pulled muscles, sprains, and strains. 

How to Improve Flexibility for Martial Arts

martial artists stretching before taekwondo

Credit: Taekwondo Nation

Since martial arts, like Muay Thai and other combat sports, can produce a lot of strain on the body, sport-specific stretching exercises are a valuable tool to reduce stress on your muscles and joints. In order to improve flexibility, you should set up a consistent routine that mobilizes all major muscle groups. By improving flexibility, you can have confidence that you will stave off injury while working to become a better martial artist.

The 10 Best Martial Arts Stretches

The 10 best Martial Arts stretches encompass all the main muscles used, and also focusing on areas that may be prone to injury. 


10. Standing Hamstring Stretch

The standing hamstring stretch focuses on mobilizing the back of your thigh, which acts as a stabilizer for your knee.


  1. Start by standing on your Yoga Strong Mat with both feet with your left foot six inches in front of your right. The left heel should be on the floor with the toes flexed up.
  2. Then, hinge at the hips while slightly bending your right knee. Your spine should be parallel to the ground while the left leg is completely straight
  3. Hold for 30 seconds
  4. Switch sides and repeat

9. Side Lunges

Martial arts, like kickboxing, has unpredictable movement patterns, making it especially important to stretch in a multitude of directions. Side lunges affect the inner and outer hip and aid lateral movement.


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. 

8. Front Lunge

Front lunges are a sagittal plane movement, which differ from side lunges, which are a frontal plane movement. With a different plane of motion, front lunges will affect different muscle groups. In this case, front lunges target more quadricep, hamstring, and glute max recruitment.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart. 
  2. When ready, keep your spine upright and shoulders back and take a moderate step forward with your right leg.
  3. As you step forward, drop your right hip and bend your right knee to complete the lunge.
  4. Then, step back to the starting position and switch your lead leg.
  5. Repeat 10x each side

7. Side Bends

Many abdominal and spinal stretches involve extension and rotation. But, improving lateral flexion with side bends can increase flexibility in the obliques and lateral hip.


Here are the steps:


  1. While standing upright with your arms at each side, start to reach your right hand down your side body towards the outside of your right foot. 
  2. At the same time, bump your hips to the left to increase the range of motion. Make sure you are bending to the side (laterally), and not forward or rotation. 
  3. Repeat on the opposite side. 

6. Shin Stretches

Stretching your Anterior Tibialis muscle with shin stretches will help prevent dreaded shin splints and mobilize your knee, foot, and ankle for improved range of motion.


Here are the steps:


  1. Start standing with your right foot about 6-12 inches behind your left.
  2. Then, flip your right foot so the sole of your foot is facing up and the top of your foot (shoelace side) is making contact with the ground
  3. When ready, make light squats with evenly distributed body weight. You should feel a stretch on the top of your foot through your shin.
  4. Repeat 10x each leg. 

5. Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch

Throwing punches in martial arts involves repetitive shoulder flexion and protraction (your arms in front of you or above your head). So in order to counterbalance the shoulder flexion, use the assisted reverse chest stretch to extend your shoulders while stretching your triceps and forearms!


Here are the steps:


  1. Start by standing about 6-12 inches in front of a table.
  2. Then, grab the edge of the table with each hand and start to lower your body towards the ground. You should feel a nice stretch in the biceps, chest, and shoulders.  

4. Child’s Pose

With all the intensity of training for martial arts, including stretches for muscle repair and improving back flexibility is important. Including Child’s Pose before or after your workout will help accelerate your recovery. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start on all fours on your Yoga Strong Mat. From all fours, bring your knees slightly wider than hips, nearly mat distance apart. 
  2. Keeping big toes to touch, push your bum towards your feet. 
  3. Keeping your hips back, begin to lower your chest, head and shoulders to the mat. 
  4. Then, forehead releases to the mat and arms stretched long forward. You should feel a stretch in your lats.
  5. Let elbows soften and hold 5 breaths. 

3. Splits

Don’t be alarmed, even if you can’t perform a full split, the positioning of your hips can be an effective stretch for the legs. 


Here are the steps:


  1. Start in a low lunge position with the right knee down and left leg up on a Yoga Strong Towel
  2. Place both hands on your hips and keep your front left foot flexed so the heel is on the ground and toes are pointed up. Your right back toes should be untucked so the top of the foot is resting on the ground.
  3. Begin to slide your front left foot forward, using the towel to help you glide.
  4. Once you feel a deep stretch in the front leg hamstring and back leg hip flexors, stop and hold this position.

2. Reclined Spinal Twist

For effective combat training, whether that is martial arts or boxing, core stiffness helps create tension to encourage stability. However, this makes stretches like the reclined spinal twist more important, in order to emphasize flexibility in the spine to stay balanced


Here are the steps:


  1. Lay on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Let your right arm extend wide out to the right. 
  2. Using your left hand, guide the right leg up and across the body to the left.
  3. Now, let your knee fall to the left. Bottom leg stays straight. Release your left arm to the left and if comfortable, bring your gaze to the right. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side  

1. Arm Swings

A strong upper body also indicates a flexible upper body. Using arm swings as a dynamic stretch encourages mobility in your shoulders, chest, and lats to keep healthy when aggressive arm motions in martial arts.


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. 

Increase Your Flexibility for Martial Arts Today

martial artist using flexibility to do high kick

Establishing a consistent routine that includes the 10 best stretches for martial arts is a principal technique to increase your flexibility. With these 10 best stretches for martial arts, we are laying out a strategy to help you succeed! So don’t neglect your stretching routine and start ASAP!


References:


Kiikka, D. (2022, January 24). Pre-workout stretching prepares your body for athletic performance. The Sports Edu. https://thesportsedu.com/pre-workout-stretching/ 

Upper body stretches. Ergonomics. (2020, November 4). https://ergonomics.ucla.edu/injuries-and-prevention/stretches/upper-body-stretches