Chiropractic Advicetwo young women practicing martial arts

Martial arts training requires an extreme range of motion to execute movements and prevent injury. Whether you practice martial arts for fun, fitness, or competition, a well-rounded stretching regimen help increase your proficiency.

Always Warm Up First

Warm up to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate — the target heart rate for a flexibility regimen — with dynamic stretching. Three to five minutes of brisk walking increases your core body temperature and heart rate sufficiently for stretching.

Dynamic Martial Arts Stretches

Dynamic stretching, in which you move constantly, works your primary movers while keeping your heart rate in the target zone. Limit yourself to five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching.

Lower Body Stretches

The knee hug and twist targets the hamstrings, quads, glutes, external obliques, and rectus abdominis. From an erect standing position, bring your right kneecap to your chest and grasp your shin with both hands. Release your hands and smoothly step forward into the lunge position with your right leg. Twist your upper body to the right a quarter turn, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee as you do so. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

Upper Body Stretches

Arm swings, also called arm scissors, hit the pectorals, upper lats, triceps, biceps, and front and rear delts. Standing erect, hold your arms to the sides and parallel to the ground. With your elbows straight but not locked, move your arms toward the midline of your body and cross them over each other as much as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat. Keep your core tight throughout the movement.

Static Martial Arts Stretches

Static stretching consists of slow, controlled movements that take a body part to its full range of motion. You don’t have to reach the full range of motion if you’re untrained — just stretch until you feel tension or minor discomfort.

Upper Body Stretches

Pectoral stretches hit the chest, biceps, and front and side delts. Standing erect with your core tightened, hold your arms to the sides and parallel with the ground. Turn your palms facing downward and pull your arms back as far as possible; hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t bend your elbows or “bounce” while performing this movement.

Lower Body

Split hamstring stretches target the hamstrings, adductors, and calves. Sit on an exercise mat with your legs at a 45-degree angle or wider. With your legs straight but not locked, bend at the waist and grab the balls of your feet. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Safety Notes

  • Check with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen
  • Stretch through a muscle’s range of motion until you feel mild discomfort, not pain
  • Breathe normally
  • Keep your eyes straight ahead and your spine and joints in proper alignment during a stretch
  • Never stretch “cold” — always warm up first