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The importance of stretching

pacific international taekwondo brisbane

To undertake any movement, the body has to move the bones, the joints, and its accompanying soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. With a view to making the bones more stronger, the joints more lubricated and the soft tissues more elongated, some specific types of movements are undertaken. Due to these specific movements of the body, the bones and the joints assume a specific position, while the soft tissues are elongated. Such kind of movement of the body is known as stretching, because it stretches the soft tissues to elongate and become more longer. Stretching is normally done as a part of a warming up exercise; however, advanced students also undertake stretching as a part of a cooling down exercise.

Taweesilp Taekwondo Thailand video “Stretching EP.1”:

Although there is no strict classification; nonetheless, stretching may be classified as static stretching and dynamic stretching.

Static stretching

In static stretching a particular position of the body is held for a period of time, usually ranging from few seconds to few minutes. Because the body holds a particular position for a period of time, the body stops moving and is thus static. Hence, if the body is static while stretching, then it is known as static stretching. Static stretches are usually done when the body is in a lying down or a sitting or a standing position.

Daisho Ryu Karate Bremen video “Basic Stretching exercises for Karate to improve flexibility/Dehn├╝bungen/Junan Undou” :

Dynamic stretching

In dynamic stretching a particular position of the body is not held for a period of time. Because the body does not hold a particular position of the body for a period of time, the body is constantly moving and is thus dynamic. Hence, if the body is dynamic while stretching, then it is known as dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches are usually sport-specific exercises and they are done when the body is in motion.

Lu Strength & Therapy video “BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU: Simple 10 Minute Stretching & Flexibility Routine” :

Stretching exercises

There are several stretching exercises with the most popular ones being the splits (for roundhouse kicks, side kicks, etc.) and the hamstring stretches (for front kicks, axe kicks, etc.). Stretching exercises include standing stretches, sitting stretches, and prone stretches (lying down on the stomach, lying down on the back).  Stretches that involve motion of the body are sport-specific stretches and usually vary from sport to sport. The purpose of stretching exercises is to increase the flexibility of the areas of the neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrist, palm, fingers, back, abdomen, waist, hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, toes and soles of the feet. In this manner, due to stretching the entire body becomes flexible.

Shaolin Kung Fu video “Shaolin Kung Fu BodyBuilding: advanced stretching”:

Conclusion

Stretching results in the body becoming more flexible and flexibility of the body is one of the foundational pillars of all martial art techniques. Without a flexible body, it is not possible to perform a stance, a punch, a kick,  a block, or any other movement, with balance, speed and power. Therefore, stretching is of paramount importance for any sincere Taekwondo student.

Stretching increases flexibility, agility, speed, and power in executing various Taekwondo fundamental techniques. Advanced students may also combine breathing, stretching, and meditation.

 

 


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