If you practice Tae Kwon Do for awhile, you start to realize that you can’t progress very fast if you just practice once a week at the dojang. It’s important that you spend time on your techniques at home, and that you work on increasing your flexibility. Ideally, you should take about 30 min a day to run through these seven stretches. If you do, you should find that your techniques become more fluid and you stand less chance of injuring yourself.
This stretch is just that old-fashioned leg stretch your teacher had you do a million times during gym class. Sit on the floor with your right leg out and left leg tucked. Keep your knee flat and reach for your toes with both hands. Hold the stretch and breathe. Relax and repeat.
Switch legs. Extend your left leg and tuck your right. Keep the knee flat and reach for your toes with both hands. Hold and breathe. Wait a few seconds and repeat.
Do each side twice.
Spread both legs to the side so that they form a “v” in front of you. Reach forward to the middle, while keeping your knees flat to the ground. Hold and breathe. Relax and repeat twice.
Kneel on your shins. Raise your right knee so that you look like you are getting ready to propose. Place both hands on your right knee and lean forward, keeping your back as upright as possible.
Feel the stretch in your hips and quadricep. Hold for at least 30 seconds and then relax.
Repeat two or three times and then switch legs. Do the same for the other side.
Most of you have probably seen the butterfly stretch before. Sit on the floor and bring both feet as close to your groin as possible while pointing your knees to the sides (butterfly wings). Press down gently on your knees. Hold down for about 30 seconds. Try to relax your legs as much as possible during the stretch.
For some this stretch is next to impossible, while others find it way too easy. If you fall in the latter category, take the stretch to the next level. As you press down on your knees, lay forward with your back as straight as possible. The goal is to lay flat on the floor with your knees touching the floor as well.
Sit upright with your legs together and straight in front of you. Reach both arms around to the right and twist your ribcage, keeping your legs flat. Hold for 30 seconds.
Return to the middle and relax. Then, do the same for the left side. Try to keep your abdominals engaged during the entire stretch and focus on breathing evenly in and out.
Many of you may know this as the “cobra stretch.”
Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows. Keeping your eyes forward, slowly raise yourself off your elbows and onto your hands. Arch your back as far as comfortable while supporting your weight. Hold for 15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this stretch two times.
For those wanting an even more intense stretch, bend your knees and try to touch the back your head with your toes.
Even though most flexibility stretches in Tae Kwon Do focus on the legs and hips, it’s also important to stretch your shoulders and arms.
Raise your left arm up and point your fingers at the ceiling. Let your lower arm (the part below the elbow) fall behind your head while keeping your elbow pointed up. Grab your left hand with your right and gently pull. Try to relax your muscles as you pull. You should also make a concentrated effort to keep your head from falling forward. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and then relax.
Repeat on the other side.
At this point, you have stretched your entire body up to the neck. Stress, can cause quite a bit of tension in both your neck and shoulders. Take time to gently rotate your head 360 degrees and tilt it in all directions. Make sure your neck muscles do not feel tight. If they do, hold your head in such a way as to gently pull on the tight muscles. Do this until you feel relaxed.
At first, these exercises might seem difficult, especially if it’s been awhile since you last stretched. The key to flexibility is consistent stretching. Each day, go a bit further, or hold it a while longer. Always stretch slowly and never take it to the point of pain. It should feel challenging, but if it hurts, you need to ease up or you could do damage to your muscles. Each time you stretch, you should be able to go just a bit further.
Keep stretching soon you will be throwing roundhouse kicks to the head like a pro.
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