The Importance of Flexibility

Muay Thai World Champion Yoddecha Sityodtong from Evolve MMA

Flexibility is a key ingredient for martial artists. For BJJ, it makes your guard virtually unpassable. For Muay Thai, it means you can throw a high kick with ease.  The great thing about martial arts is that it naturally enhances your flexibility quite dramatically. That being said, it is also important to complement your martial arts training with stretching exercises on your own; it will greatly accelerate your gains in flexibility. In turn, increased flexibility will enhance your abilities as a martial artist as well as help you to prevent injuries.

While there are different schools of thought on stretching, the basic concept is simple. If you think of a rubber band, you can see that a short rubber band is much tighter than a long one. A tight rubber band is easier to rip. A long rubber band is flexible. The idea of stretching is to get your muscles to become long like a long rubber band. Every time you do a great stretching routine, your muscles will have microscopic tears in them; your body will then rebuild those muscles into longer muscles. Over time, your tight rubber bands will become long ones.

Here is a basic routine to follow:

Before undergoing any rigorous stretching exercises, it is good to warm up the body and get your blood circulating. A warm-up can consist of a 15 minute jog, 10 minutes of skipping rope, or anything that can get your body to heat up and start sweating. By warming up the body before any rigorous stretching exercises, it will help you to minimize any chances of injury.

Dynamic Stretching
After a good warm-up, the next step is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is the concept of stretching your muscles through action. For example, light shadow boxing is one form of dynamic stretching. By performing the kicks, punches, knees, and elbows of Muay Thai during shadow boxing, you are stretching the specific muscles needed for the upcoming pad session and heavy bag work. Another example of dynamic stretching would be doing straight kick-up motions with your leg like that of a cheerleader. This motion will stretch your hamstrings very well in a dynamic manner. After you undergo dynamic stretching, your body is ready to be pushed to its limit with a great workout.

Static Stretching
Static stretching is best used after a hard workout (ie after a class at Evolve MMA). Static stretching is the concept of stretching your muscles slowly into a position and holding it. For example, you can sit on the floor with your feet stretched out in front of you and lean over to touch your toes and hold the position. Try to hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 sets. Static stretches are good as an after-workout cool down. Your body will be tired and your muscles will tend to tighten up after a class. Static stretching will help lengthen those muscles when your body's instinct is to tighten up those muscles.

If you want to improve your flexibility with specific drills, please feel free to ask your favorite instructor at Evolve MMA. As you will see, each instructor will have different drills and tricks to increasing flexibility. The most important thing is to experiment with your body and to see which stretching exercises are best suited for you. Either way, do your best to get into the habit of warming your body up and doing dynamic stretches before a hard workout. Along the same vein, be sure to end each hard workout with some static stretching.

As we age, we naturally become less flexible and this stiffness becomes a source of pain and injury. In the long run, if you have excellent flexibility, you will sustain less injuries and you will also age gracefully with minimal disruptions.

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.