Regular stretching of the muscles can help to relieve soreness resulting from physical exercise. But when done on a regular basis, stretching can also help with flexibility that can be applied to many areas, including:
- Relaxation of mind and body
- Reduce the possibility of injury to muscles, joints, and tendons
- Heightened sense of body awareness
- Enhanced physical fitness
- And more
Before beginning warm up stretching, it is advisable to begin by rolling the joints of the body such as the wrists, shoulders, and ankles.
Warming the joints up first will coat them with synovial fluid which will in turn make them more responsive when actually performing warm up stretches and further activity.
When stretching, especially during your warm up stretches, you can begin by stretching from top down. Begin by stretching the muscles of the neck and then shoulders. Afterwards stretch the arms and proceed to the stomach and pelvis.
Afterward, you should stretch the groin, then the quads and calves of the legs. The warm up stretch routine performed before class is a good template to model your stretching outside of class.
Be careful not to overstretch!
It is important to always remember to respect our bodies when stretching. Your stretches should always be careful and controlled.
While you can gain flexibility by pushing yourself a little bit when stretching, and it is normal to feel a bit of mild discomfort, you should stop immediately if you begin to feel pain.
Overstretching can easily do more harm than good for muscles and joints. Stretch in a warm climate if possible to keep the muscles warm and responsive.
It is also important to take a few minutes to stretch after class and Kenpo practice as well.
When done on a regular basis stretching will undoubtedly increase your flexibility and physical fitness. However, your Kenpo practice can also benefit from stretching in other ways as well.
As discussed before, relaxation of mind and body are very important aspects of Kenpo.
If your muscles are relaxed, then you will tend to be more focused on your target and more aware of your surroundings. With relaxation and focus comes a heightened sense of body awareness.
In addition, when the muscles are knotted up in a clot of stress and panic we tend to fight ourselves more than anyone. Therefore, relaxation of the muscles coupled with proper breathing helps to fundamentally improve our Kenpo.