Stretching is not always what you think

Most classes of TSD involve forms of passive stretching where we bend ourselves over and hold the stretch for a count.  This is important stretching for flexibility development that we all desire in our aim to make the converted splits.  But the great news is, you don’t actually have to do that before the start of a class or prior to performing at a competition, in fact it actually exhausts your muscles before you need them to be at their fittest. The kind of stretching you want to do is dynamic stretching.  This warms up the muscles you are going to use instead of exhausting them, it triggers the bodies nervous system to prepare for excessive movement like high kicks. What dynamic stretching does is program proprioceptor and encourages the release and hydration of the fascia. That is the connective tissue that wraps around your muscles, and each muscle fibre. When fascia is tight or stuck the muscle is limited in its ability to contract effectively. It can’t expand and the fibres can’t slide against each other. Do you want to use less energy for the same movement or be working against your own internal resistance? Dynamic stretching of your kicking and punching muscles opens a space where fluid for the muscles can move. It also increases the potential power output of each contraction.

Focus your Mind

Harmonise your breathing to the movement of your stretches to increase its effectiveness.  For example, inhale to bring one knee towards your chest (standing axe kick), exhale to extend the leg as your active stretch.  Deliberate concentration on moving with the breath sharpens the focus, brings both body and mind into the moment. The heart rate and breathing rate slow to a relaxed state, giving further ability to work hard during class. The fuller and focused breathing prepares the body for action by boosting oxygen saturation and lowering carbon dioxide, helping to balance the surge of carbon dioxide and acidity produced by training. The rhythm and repetition have a calming effect on the nervous system, which is a great state to begin training that also in turn leads to better endurance. It can help make training in forms for example more of a moving meditation.

The movement combined with the breath encourages physiological coherence. Coherence is one of the key indicators of body health, the more coherence between the body systems the healthier the body is. High coherence increases energy, efficiency and effectiveness of the body. This internal stability brings greater resilience to negative influences, at the same time making us more receptive or in tune to the rhythm of others in the peloton.

Now is the time to Squeeze those muscles

After training the more passive type stretches are beneficial after the exertion of training. The muscle action of training has squeezed the muscles and fascia of a lot of fluid. Passive stretching, with longer holds allows new, nutrient rich fluid to be absorbed into those hard worked tissues. Think of it as a sponge, flexible when hydrated, the training has wrung it dry, the passive stretch releases the squeeze to allow that reabsorption.

Encouraging healthier muscles and fascia, less effort and less chance of soreness later, stretching really is an important component of every training session.

Lets us know what preparations you take when you are training TSD.

By Master Jan De-Vry

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