Surefire way to increase your karate move flexibility

Published: 21st May 2006
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Before you begin your karate training I just only want to make sure you do some stretching first. It is basic but it is very important to improve your karate move flexibility. All of your muscle is subject to myotatic reflex. What the h**k is myotatic reflex? What is it doing with your karate training?

Simply said, myotatic reflex is stretch reflex which opposes changes in muscle length, especially sudden or extreme changes. When a muscle lengthens beyond a certain point, the myotatic reflex causes it to tighten and attempt to shorten. This is the tension you feel during stretching exercises.

In your karate training the myotatic reflex could prevent muscle strains and tears. Without the myotatic reflex your muscles would be allowed to overextend and tear easily. But it is also undesirable in cases where it prevents you from fully using your body.
That is why stretching is important before you do your karate training. By stretching, you are entering the state where you gradually lessen the myotatic reflex little by little so you could teach your muscles a new limit of safe extension. I suggest your stretching must be slow and consistent. If you overstretch and injure the muscle, you have to go back to a lower level of flexibility and start over. Set your stretching for karate training goals over a period of weeks or months, not days, for best results.

Now the question is what stretching method best for your karate training?

There are three types of stretching method for your karate training: ballistic, dynamic, and static.
Now I would not recommend a ballistic stretching for your karate training. By doing ballistic stretching you are using some type of moving pressure to stretch the target muscle. Why I said I would not recommend it? It is simply because ballistic stretching highly activates the myotatic reflex and causes the muscles to tense rather than relax, thus it has high risk that your karate training would end up by you taking injury.

If you would like to increase your karate move flexibility it is best you are doing dynamic or static stretching.
By doing dynamic stretching you are moving your muscle through its full range of movement, thus leading to greater flexibility in movement but should be done with caution so it does not become ballistic stretching (caution boy and gal, you don't want to get injured, do you?). To maintain a correct dynamic stretch, focus on smooth, even movements that do not shock the muscle. Examples of dynamic stretches are leg raises, knee raises, trunk circles, and arm circles.

What about static stretching? Static stretching is a controlled stretch which means a specific muscle (or muscle group) is extended to the point of feeling slight pain and held in that position for ten to sixty seconds. And don't forget this during your karate training: when doing your static stretching it is best to concentrate on relaxing the target muscles and breathing deeply.

Last but not least: begin your flexibility workout with several minutes of gross motor activity first in order to increase your blood flow. Making your blood flow increased improves the suppleness of the muscles. After that move to joint loosening exercises followed by dynamic stretches to the get the muscles moving freely. If you are working only on flexibility, do static stretches next. During your karate training, interspersing periods of static stretching throughout the workout works best because the range of motion increases as the body warms up. Do some light static stretches at the end of every workout to relax and refresh your muscles.

Now you will learn what should not be done during your karate training.

Stretching is important but do not overstretch it. A mild sensation of burning or pulling should be felt in the target muscles. It should be uncomfortable but not unbearable.

Flexibility in karate is important, so is strength. Always increase your strength and flexibility together. Focusing too heavily on one side in your karate training will only making you have weakness. Don't let it happen especially when your opponent sees it and making advantage over you because of this.

You should avoid bouncing too much during a stretch. Bouncing causes the muscles to tighten and heightens the risk of injury.

If you ever feel pain in your joints during stretch exercise stop immediately and discontinue that exercise. Something not right and if you continue it will only making injury for you.

Follow instructions for exercises carefully. There is right and wrong way to stretch every muscle. Good flexibility exercises are designed to provide a maximum stretch with a minimum risk of injury.

When doing flexibility exercises that require bending at the waist, always bend from the hip, not the lower back. The lower back is extremely vulnerable to injuries.

Do gravity assisted stretches with caution and only after fully warming up. Gravity assisted stretches are exercises like splits that use the force of gravity to increase the pressure on the stretch.

That's it! Now you have already understand how to increase your karate move flexibility and what should not be done during your training. Happy karate training.

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