Taekwondo stretching...are you up for the challenge?
Improve your stretching techniques here!
On this page explain why taekwondo stretching
is so good for your body
And we give great general stretching tips
Head here for specific stretching techniques.
The photo shows us stretching in a Korean yoga class in Korea. It made us realize how much more we need to stretch!
So why is taekwondo stretching so good for you?
Well this is a taekwondo site.
So the obvious thing to say is that if you want to do those high taekwondo kicks. You need to get flexible.
Otherwise you try that head high axe kick.
And you tear a muscle.
To us the benefits of taekwondo stretching extend much further than any high kick!
Becoming more flexible through taking stretching has improved our lives.
Neil like many men had short hamstrings. (The hamstring is the muscle running down the back of the thigh).
The short hamstrings were pulling on Neil's pelvis. This in turned put pressure on Neil's spine. And the result was pain in his lower back. Most of the time.
Then as part of his taekwondo training Neil started taekwondo stretching. And slowly but surely his short hamstring muscles got longer.
And as his hamstrings lengthened.
His back pain gradually went away.
A huge relief!
Here's another example.
Deb had a car accident a few years ago. She suffered a whiplash injury. This made her neck sore most of the time. Also she found it hard to look over her shoulder because her neck was stiff.
As part of taekwondo stretching. Deb found she was regularly stretching her neck muscles.
And gradually, gradually.
Month by month.
Deb found her neck was less sore.
And now she has no neck pain.
And she can turn her head easily. When she's reversing the car. Which we hope will help to avoid more accidents!
Make your taekwondo stretching goals realistic!
So you decide that taekwondo stretching is a good thing. How do you go about it?
Taekwondo stretching will be part of each class you do.
Each instructor will teach slightly different ways of stretching each muscle. There's lots of different ways that work well.
We don't aim to replace what your taekwondo instructor teaches you.
We just aim to give you a few guidelines that have helped us.
Firstly we say as with anything in taekwondo.
Have realistic aims.
Especially if you start training later in life.
You will see amazing pictures in martial arts magazines of people doing 180' side kicks. And they are just that....
But it's worth bearing in mind these things.
The martial artist in the magazine probably started training as a young child. And trained for many, many hours.
So if you are a busy Mum or Dad. Or you work long hours. Or you juggle your taekwondo training with playing for the school football team and hours of homework.
Then the chances are.
That you're going to struggle to train enough to reach that 180' kick.
Aim for progression rather than perfection.
Aim to keep getting better.
That way you are less likely to get frustrated and give up. And you'll reap the huge benefits your taekwondo training brings for longer.
Also we try to remember this.
Everyone is different.
Some people are naturally flexible.
Others are not.
Don't compare yourself to others.
By all means admire the taekwondo black belts in the front row of the class in perfect box splits.
But don't hope to be like them.
General stretching tips
Here are some general tips we use for stretching outside of class.
We never stretch a cold muscle. We always warm up. Usually we go for a jog. But skipping would be good.
Once our bodies are warm. We make sure we are in a warm place. In the UK we used to wrap up in layers of clothes. So our muscles stayed warm.
Then we try to make sure we are looking at something nice. We often stretch on the beach. We find the waves energizing and fascinating in their complexity.
OK we know we're lucky to live in Australia! But a view of a park out of the window is fine.
If you can't look at a view watching TV is fine. Or you can put some relaxing music on.
Just something to take your mind off the discomfort it when the stretching gets intense.
The next important thing we do is to try to relax.
We know it's hard.
When you are stretching to your maximum and it starts to hurt the last thing you feel is relaxed! However if you tense up you will inevitably tense up the muscle you are trying to stretch.
So then it won't stretch.
And you'll get frustrated.
So we say try to relax. Try to concentrate on the nice view outside or that calm music.
We stretch until the muscle hurts a bit. But not so that we are in agony. That's no fun!
Then we hold the stretch still for 10 seconds. Sometimes more. Without bouncing.
We usually work on combining strength with taekwondo stretching.
For example while we work on our box splits position. We try not to lean forwards onto our hands. This way as much of our body weight as possible is on our legs.
Which helps our muscles get strong and flexible at the same time.
And as with all aspects of taekwondo.
Taekwondo stretching is yours.
You will learn stretches from your taekwondo instructor. But If a you find a muscle group in your body is stiff. And you find a stretch that works for that muscle group.
Then go for it.
Use that stretch.
No-one knows your body like you do!