Martial Arts can be a great exercise but when done improperly or in sport competition, can lead to stiffness or pain. Even the Karate Kid practiced functional mobility exercises as instructed by Miyagi. We have compiled a list of exercises with Video Examples that will help you alleviate your aches and increase flexibility. No Karate Gi Needed...but you can wear it if you want to!
The most common source of pain due to martial arts is from weakened muscles in critical areas that we don't exercise enough. Core Stability is crucial for throwing kicks or lifting, and this can cause the body to overcompensate in other muscle areas leading to strain and thus pain.
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Try these 5 exercises every morning for 30 days and see how your mobility and flexibility for Martial Arts transforms.
Improve core stability by opening up flexibility in the hips, glutei, and intercostal muscles. We rotate around the hip in many Karate or martial arts techniques so warming up and stretching the midsection and hips is very important.
This stretch also works the hip flexor in the front of the hip and the hamstring in the rear. It is a great way to warm up prior to practice.
Have you ever had to wear an ankle brace to the dojo or gym? Think about how much weight your poor ankles have to support every day and how little care you give them. Injury can happen easily due to explosive movements and twisting motions we practice in martial arts. Work your ankle muscles to improve stability and your Kata performance will thank you.
Balance in Martial arts requires the various parts of your body to work in harmony, so don't neglect your ankles.
The hips contribute so much of our power and stability in the martial arts and often, we don't even think about them let alone exercise them. Try warming up the hips with Hip circles to get the blood flowing. Then Increase muscle control with some simple slow outer rotations and leg lifts. Most students are shocked by how weak their hips are compared to what how they believed. If you want higher, stronger, and more controlled kicks: focus on building hip strength, flexibility and mobility.
The Hips contribute to our posture and alignment, having correct hip movement can save you lower back and knee pain later.
Unlock your tight kicks, and free up your movements. Get deeper stances without effort and gain more control over your body movement and stretches without pain by increasing groin mobility.
Throwing kicks without stretching can cause injury over time, practicing a few simple stretches each day will improve your overall hip, hamstring and groin flexibility.
Make sure to control each of your movements slowly as this will build the control and strength of the fine muscles we use for martial arts that you typically don't use on a weight machine.
Using a dynamic stretch that works the major muscles of the lower body including the glutei, hamstring, quads, calves, and hip flexors will help improve stability and flexibility for martial arts kicks and stances. Practicing fine motor skills that stretch the leg muscles help train muscles to elongate and become more pliable. The more you practice slow control over your body, the more control and flexibility you'll have when performing explosive techniques.
Want to improve your flexibility even more? Check out this full article on how to use science to improve your kicking flexibility and splits.
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About the Author:
Colton Woodard is a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kuniba Kai Karate Do and holds the title of Kyoshi as well. He loves to teach Karate, Kobudo, and Iaido and considers himself a lifetime student in pursuit of self improvement in both Martial Arts and in Character. Colton loves to visit Japan and speaks conversational Japanese and can write quite a few Kanji. He is a Karate competitor and coach and loves to exercise and make new memories with people all over the world.
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