Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, February 17, 2014

Flexibility Training for Martial Arts

About any athletic activity requires some degree of flexibility, especially martial arts. There are a myriad of stretching programs out there and if you like me with a LOT of connective tissue in my legs, most of it just doesn't help.

Not all stretching regimes are alike though. The kinesiological stretching techniques taught by Paul Zaichik at Elastic Steel are something a little different. If you are really tight, or have a specific problem area, you may certainly want to take a look at them. I think you'll get results beyond your expectations FAST.

He has both general stretching programs and others for specific areas or sports. Mr. Zaichik was kind enough to provide with with a video of his Hip Flexor program, which is particularly applicable to internal  martial arts.

Below is a discription of how kinesiological stretching differs from standard stretching. Please visit Elastic Steel. Enjoy.

How are kinesiological stretching techniques differ from standard stretching techniques?

There are a few major differences and many minor ones.

1. Standard stretches often stretch multple muscles at the same time.

For example let's say you want to stretch your hip flexors, to improve hip extension and pelvic tilt position.  There are 6 hip flexors. On the top of that- upper adductors flex the hip as well. If the target action of the stretch is direct hip extension, there are 10 muscles (6 hip flexors and 4 adductors), that need to be lengthen for hip extension to take place. If anyone of them doesn't release, hip extension is restricted.

Kinesiological stretching techniques take advantage of the fact that each of those muscle carries out a different function on the top of flexing the hip. Some rotate the joint laterally, some medially, some abduct, some adduct, some cross the knee, while other flex the spine.

Taking this into consideration, kinesiologically each muscle can be isolated and stretch individually.

This allow for much easier stretch and much faster progress. At the same time, this allows an athlete (or therapist) to find out which muscle is causing the issue. Thus more attention can be place on this muscle, through frequent focus, deeper stretching, massage, release, visualization, etc.

2. Next kinesiological stretching techniques are different from other approaches, because stretching reflex is tricked. (Imagine how much further you can stretch, if the pain is not there.) The avoidance of stretch reflex comes from the stretching positions and the concept of target and leverage.

Kinesiological stretching techniques are not passive. This is done by selecting an action (or combination of actions) as target and one as leverage. The target is the muscle action one wants to improve, while the leverage is the action that creates space in the muscle. A position is chosen, where both actions can move at the same time. Basic applications move an leverage, followed by a target.

Advance applications vary greatly, and range from multiple targets and multiple leverages to various full and partial contractions on agonists and antagonists.

In research kinesiological stretching techniques have  preformed better than relaxed stretches, active stretches, PNF and others. The faster results came with shorter recovery time, longer range of motion retention, and significant carry over into sport activities (regardless if used as a warm up, in between skill set, or as a cool down.)


The Strongest Karate said...

I know we're all built a little different, but I don't think I'll ever have really "made it" until I can get a nice jodan mawashi upside one of my dojomates head.

Rick Matz said...

Ad admirable goal.