If you’re like most Karate enthusiasts, you enjoy the sport, but you’re not eager to get hurt while training. To help avoid injuries, you should learn how to do Karate stretches.
Though this runs contrary to popular belief in the exercise world, research has not found a direct link between stretching and injury prevention. However, there are many benefits of stretching, such as being more flexible and having more range of motion that do help prevent injuries.
Besides, being more flexible is one of the keys to kicking higher and more powerfully, as we explain in this article. All-in-all stretching is an invaluable part of your Karate training.
So, without further ado, let’s learn how to do some effective karate stretches.
Table of Contents
1. Front Lunge Stretch
A front kick is snappy, allowing you to deliver a strong blow quickly, making it more difficult for your opponent to block. A well-positioned front kick to the jaw can send your opponent straight to the ground. Unfortunately, you might be the one on the ground if you are not flexible enough to land the strike — particularly if your opponent is taller than you.
Regular front lunge stretches are an excellent way to avoid this type of embarrassment. They will stretch out the muscles in your groin, glutes, hamstrings, and quads — all in the same exercise.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a giant step forward and lower your body toward the floor, keeping the back leg straight. Keep the front knee in line with your heel, and don’t allow it to go over your toes. You can tell if your knee is in the right spot by looking down. You should still be able to see your toes peeking out from under your knee.
Rest your hands on your knee or thigh for support. Eventually, you can add a backbend like the lady in the photo for an even deeper and more comprehensive stretch.
2. Side Lunge Stretch
The sidekick is an explosive attack that is a devastating strike when well placed. Unfortunately, you can also do some serious damage to your own muscles if you push them beyond their limits, potentially tearing the groin muscles or inner thighs.
Side lunge stretches are one of the best karate stretching exercises for lengthening these muscles, minimizing the potential for injury.
The stretch is similar to the front lunge, but instead of stretching front to back, you stretch side to side.
Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart, as if you were going to do a horse-back riding stance. Bend one knee and lower your body to that side, keeping the opposite leg straight. You can place your hand on the floor for balance and to lower your body further into the stretch.
This targets the inner thigh and groin muscles, exactly the type of stretch for high kicks that will take your foot attacks to a new level — literally.
3. Shin Stretch
Stretching for kicks isn’t the only reason you might need to stretch. Have you taken your training up a notch recently? You may start to notice pain and inflammation happening along the front of your lower leg. This is referred to as shin splints. It commonly happens to martial artists when the muscles begin to complain about more intense training sessions.
The good news is that shin splints are relatively easy to treat and prevent by simply stretching the muscles.
To stretch your shins, stand up tall with your feet a comfortable distance apart. Take one leg back and point your toe. Rest the point of your toe on the ground and exert a bit of downward force. You’ll feel the muscles along the front of your shin lengthen and relax, easing the pain of shin splints over time.
4. Side Bends
There is a lot of twisting and turning in Karate. From a twist of the hips during a reverse punch to a devastating roundhouse kick, a flexible core is necessary for any serious martial artist. These types of stretches for Karate often get overlooked in lieu of the fancy leg ones necessary to land a decent high kick. However, they are just as essential, if not more important, than stretching for kicks.
Take a wide horseback riding stance, but with your legs straight. Put both arms straight out to the side. Tip over until one arm is resting near the ankle of the foot on the same side and the other is pointed straight up in the air.
Feel the stretch all down your oblique muscles, those on the sides of your torso.
5. Child’s Pose
Karate stretching exercises should leave you relaxed and ready for action at any point. The child’s pose, borrowed from Yoga, is an excellent way to relax the body after a good workout, as well as stretch several muscle groups all at once.
Sit on your knees on the floor. Place your hands on the floor to complete a tabletop pose, with your knees and hips in a vertical line as well as your hands and shoulders.
From here, shift your weight backwards until you’re sitting on your heels, keeping your hands on the floor. The resulting position stretches your back, shoulders, thighs, arms, and other muscles all at once.
The splits are a classic martial arts stretch, helping practitioners to develop the flexibility needed for impressive high kicks. They can be done by opening the legs side to side or front to back.
To stretch side to side, sit on the floor with both feet straight out in front of you. Open your legs as wide as possible, aiming to eventually position them in a straight line. Keeping your back straight, lean forward as much as you can. Eventually, you might be able to place your elbows down or even lay your torso on the floor.
For front to back splits, sit on the floor with your feet out in front of you. Rotate one leg around and back straight out behind you. If you can’t sit on the floor, use your arms to support you in the air. Eventually, you may be able to sit on the floor.
When to Use Karate Stretching Exercises
It is essential to include a variety of stretches as part of your karate exercise regime. Warming up and lightly stretching your muscles before practice can help avoid injury by giving your muscles a chance to prepare themselves for training.
After training is a prime time to work on deep stretching. Your muscles are very warm, allowing you to stretch farther. The movements allow your body to slowly cool down and will help stave off muscle soreness afterward.
Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and breathe deeply through the movement, allowing the muscles to further relax and deepening your stretch.
As always, we hope this article is helpful to you in your Karate journey. To learn a few more useful stretches to develop flexibility for high kicks, check out this visual demonstration.