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Stretching for Conditioning

Mission Statement
10 minutes of dynamic stretching in the morning makes your full range of motion possible later in the day without a warm up.
 
Dynamic movements similar to the task, for example, leg raises before kicking or arm swings before tennis, done with gradually increasing range and speed of motion facilitate neural pathways that will be used in the task.
 
Static stretches do not facilitate these pathways, do not prepare the nervous system and blood vessels in muscles for the dynamic task.  You even sweat differently when warming up with dynamic exercises than when doing static stretches.  During dynamic exercises you sweat all over and your sweat is hot.  During static stretching you sweat little, mainly on the face.  This tells you that static stretching is a poor warm up.
 
Work on Speed or technique before working on Strength; work on Strength before working on Endurance. 
 
Methods of Stretching
 
Dynamic Stretching  (the ability to perform dynamic movements within a full range of motion in the joints).
 
Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement or both.  Perform your exercises (leg raises, arm swings) in sets of 8-10 reps. If after a few sets you feel tired, stop.  Tired muscles are less elastic, which causes a decrease in the amplitude of your movement.  Do only the number of reps that you can do without diminishing your range of motion.  More reps will only set the nervous regulation of the muscle length at the level of these less than best reps and may cause you to lose some of your flexibility.  In dynamic stretching, there are no bouncy or jerky movements.  These exercises should be done in the morning, before breakfast consisting of arm swings and leg raises.  Before doing these, warm up the joints with easy movements.  DO NOT DO ISOMETRIC STRETCHES IN THE MORNING AS THEY MAY EXHAUST YOUR MUSCLES IF YOU DO THEM TWICE A DAY.  The entire routine should take 30 minutes for beginners and less for advanced.  The purpose is to reset the nervous regulation of the length of your muscles for the rest of the day.   No special cool down is needed.   Maybe relaxed static stretches at the end of the morning routine are okay.  The routine is as follows:
General warm up, including cardiovascular, then dynamic stretches, the specific warm up in which movements resemble closely the actual subject of the workout, the main part of the workout and the cool down.  The best way to practice dynamic stretches is to train your nervous system so you can have maximal speed at the moment of contact even if it is close to the maximal reach of motion in this movement.  In the case of kicks, you can learn this skill by using your hand as a target for them.  Centers in your brain that regulate coordination and rapid movements know about the hand.  They know where it is and that it can stop the kick, so the leg does not have to be slowed down gradually to prevent over stretching.  The key to dynamic stretching is the ability to combine the relaxing of the extended muscles with the contraction of the moving muscles.  Dynamic stretching improves elasticity of the muscles and ligaments.  Don’t throw your limbs, but rather lift or lead them.  The goal in dynamic stretching is to have 75% of the maximal velocity used in your actual skill, a kick for example.
Arms, alternate up and down, cross in front, clap in back. 
Legs, front lift while touching same leg to same hand, front lift at a 45% angle, side lift with a 90% angle and back lift with a 180% angle.  You can use a chair if needed which should be trunk high.  Trunk, sit on floor and left hand to right foot and reverse.  Same elbow to same knee, and round the back while bending forward touching same elbow to same knee.
Back, lye on stomach and raise your trunk using your arms and the muscles of the back.
 
Static Active Flexibility Exercises (moving your body into a stretch and holding it there through the tension of the muscle agonists in this movement.  The tension of these muscles helps to relax the muscles opposing them, the muscles that are stretched).
 
You have to learn how to relax the stretched muscles and you have to build up the strength of the muscles opposing them, so that parts of your body can be held in extended positions.  In training, hold your leg extended to the side, for example, keep raising and lowering it slowly in one continuous motion.  When you can do more than six reps, add resistance such as weights.  These are done after dynamic exercises.  Then do static passive or isometric or relaxed stretches.  Keep in mind that martial artists do not need static active flexibility. Holding the leg up is not developing dynamic flexibility or dynamic strength.  It is only developing static active flexibility such as gymnast’s use but not kickers. 
 
Arms- extend your arms to the rear and hold.
Leg extensions- hold your leg in a front kick, sidekick, back kick and round house position. 
Body- make a V with your body, do side bends, trunk rotation and back extensions.
 
Isometric Stretching (using positions similar to those in static passive stretching and adding the strong tensions of stretched muscles, you can cause reflexive relations and subsequently, increase in the stretch).  When you have reached your maximal stretch, you hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds or more.  This increases the strength of the muscles in this position.  Use these exercises as a cool down after dynamic exercises. 
 
Pick one isometric exercise per muscle group and repeat it 2-5 times using as many reps as it takes to reach the limit of mobility that you now have.  Do these exercise only 4 times a week, 10-15 minutes per day, using tensions lasting 5-6 seconds.  Increase the tension gradually and reach max tension in the third or fourth second.  Hold the last tension for 30 seconds. 
 
The three methods of doing isometric stretches:
 
First method: Stretch the muscles and wait several seconds until the mechanism regulating their length and tension readjusts, then increase the stretch, wait again and stretch again.  When you cannot stretch any more this way, apply short strong tensions, followed by quick relaxations and immediate stretches to bring about further increases in muscle length.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds. 
 
Second method: Stretch as much as you can, hold this stretched and tensed position until you get muscle spasms.  Then decrease the stretch, increase it, tense it, and so on.  The last tension should be held for up to five minutes.  It makes some people scream. 
 
Third method: this is the one most preferred.  Stretch the muscles nearly to the maximum, then tense for three to five seconds, then relax and preferably within the first second and no later than the fifth second stretch again.   Stretch further and further until you cannot increase the stretch.  Then hold this last tension for up to 30 seconds.  After a minute of rest, repeat the same stretch.  Do three to five repetitions of a whole stretch per workout.  Use isometric stretches three of four times per week.  Gradually increase the time of the last tension to about 30 seconds. 
 
When you cannot increase the stretch any more, then tense harder or longer or both. 
 
Neck, side to side, and ear to shoulder.
Forearm; bend your wrist back then opposite direction.
Arms, shoulders and chest, take a bar hold overhead.  Extend behind your back with arms straight.  Change the grip and tense your upper back, shoulders and triceps while arms are crossed in front.  Place bar behind your back and try to clasp your hands together.  Use the bar to crawl your hand together. 
Legs,  standing split not holding onto anything.  Tense the muscles of your thighs as if trying to pinch the floor.  Relax and spread your legs further.  Keep repeating this cycle of tension and relaxation until you can not lower yourself any more without pain.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds.  Another version is leg on a chair in a side kick position.  Gradually increase the height of the support or the distance from the supporting leg to the support.  If you are worried about hurting your knees, then lye on the floor in a reverse butterfly position.  Also, lye on the floor in a split position.  Spend 30 seconds or more in this position tensing the inside of your thighs.  Try lifting yourself off the floor by the sheer strength of your legs.  Eventually you should be able to slide up from the split to a standing position without using your arms.  You can also do a side kick position using a chair with your toes pointed up and lye on the floor in a split with your toes pointed up.  Stretching leading to the front split is front leg bent and back leg straight with back leg on the ground and knee touches.  Also, hold a chair, lift your other leg in order to do a quad stretch as you grab your toe and pull it to your butt. 
 
Calf stretch, grab and pull your toes toward yourself as your leg is on the chair.  Point your foot forward against the resistance of your arms.  Relax, pull the toes closer to yourself and start pointing the foot forward again.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds. 
 
Hamstring stretch, stretch your hamstring by increasing the angle between your thighs.  Tense the hamstring as if to bring it back down and then relax it.  Pull your leg toward yourself or if using a support, move the supporting leg further back.  Tense again, relax and stretch more.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds. 
 
Trunk, side bends.  Don’t twist or lean forward.  Move only to the side.  Tense the stretched side as if to straighten up, relax and try leaning further to the side.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds. 
 
Lower back, grab your legs and tense your back as if trying to straighten up.  Relax, lean forward and tense again.  Keep your head straight.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds. 
 
Trunk rotation, Twist your trunk and grab your foot or put your hands on the ground.  Tense the stretched muscles of your trunk, relax and twist further.  Tense again, relax, stretch and hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds.  Change sides. 
 
Abdomen stretch,  Tense your abdomen as if trying to pull your hips forward and down.  Relax, lower your hips and tense again.  Hold the last tension for up to 30 seconds.    A more intense version also affecting the front of the thighs.  For a counter stretch, grab your knees one at a time and pull them to your chest. 
 
ISOMETRIC EXERCISES ARE DONE AFTER DYNAMIC EXERCISES, 4 X PER WEEK.
Relaxed Stretching (another means of developing static passive flexibility and do not cause fatigue and you can do them when you are tired).
 
There are two drawbacks to relaxed stretching.  First, your muscular strength in extended positions does not increase as a result of relaxed stretching and relaxed stretching is very slow. 
 
When performing relaxed stretching, assume positions that let you relax all your muscles.  When relaxing into a stretch, at some point you will feel resistance.  Wait in that position patiently and after a while you will notice that you can slide into a new range of stretch.  After reaching the greatest possible stretch, hold it.  Feel the mild pain in stretched muscles.  Get out of the stretch after a minute or two.  Do not stay in a stretch until you get muscle spasms. 
 
SAME EXACT POSITIONS AS ISOMETRIC OR STATIC PASSIVE.

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