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The stretching principles we’re about to discuss are illustrated below using kicks that stretch the adductor muscles i.e. side/turning/roundhouse kicks. The advised stretches can also be used in the same way to develop any other kick that involves the same foot position/movement pattern i.e. hook kicks, back kicks, spin hook kicks etc.
Dynamic stretching are usually best done as part of your warm up. The stretches themselves are “dynamic”, meaning you move as you stretch.
Start with your leg relaxed (Photo 1) and then swing with an element of control outwards to the side of your body (Photo 2) until you feel a stretch (Photo 3). This can also be done holding onto something or leaning against a wall to reduce the element of balance. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.
Static stretching is the most common form of stretching and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.
To perform a static stretch on the adductors, separate your feet outwards to a comfortable position whilst keeping firm contact to the floor (Photo 1). Slowly separate them outwards even further until you feel a stretch on the inside of your legs (Photo 2). Try to relax in this position for 30-40 seconds. Repeat this 3 times with a 30 second break in between each stretch.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both stretching and contracting the muscle group being targeted. PNF stretching is one of the most effective forms of stretching for improving flexibility and kicking height. If I could choose only one form of stretching to improve kicking height, this would be it!
To perform PNF stretching on the adductor muscles, have a partner hold your side kick at a point where you feel a stretch on the inside of your kicking leg (Photo 1). At this point, you should now contract the muscle to create tension in the adductor by pressing down your side kick into your partners hands (the kick can also rest and pressure down on your partners shoulder if you prefer).
You should hold the contraction for around 6-10 seconds. Once completed, relax the leg (still in the side kick stretch position) and get your partner to lift your kick slightly higher (Photo 2). Hold this position for around 20 seconds before performing another 6-10 second contraction. Finally, relax the leg in the higher stretch position for another 20 seconds.
Perform this process on both legs 2-3 times.
NOTE that with any of these stretches, you should feel slight discomfort but NO pain.
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