Stretching for high kicks

Discussion in 'Flexibility Training' started by Van Zandt, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle come this thread isn't stickied yet, how come? :D
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  2. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    I have a couple of questions regarding the procedure, if anyone helpful and stretchy is checking in! :)

    I've gotten back into the routine as posted here after a break of a couple of months. Pretty much back to square one when I started up again. I REALLY am noticing an improvement (those early mornings are worth it!) so I'll begin by saying I'm very very grateful for Van Zandt's guide.

    I've noticed my left leg seems to be a little 'better' than my right leg (as in, kicks higher and with better form.) Is it normal to have a dominant leg?

    Also, I've started to notice a slight pain in my left knee when doing the dynamic stretches with my right leg. Meaning on each rep with the right leg there's a slight twinge. Nothing I can't handle, but likely to just be something that goes away? If possibly not, is there a decent principle form to stick to with the supporting leg throughout the dynamic stretches?

    Lastly, I've been a little lacklustre with the relaxed stretches that are pictured, as I'm not entirely sure which areas they're stretching. Splits I get, but the rest of them I'm not 100% on. Can anyone give me a brief rundown of them?

    I'll be enormously grateful for any help. HOPE it sounds like I'm asking sensible things.
  3. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Perfectly normal.

    Where on your knee (front, back, outside or inside)?

    The relaxed stretches in my original post target the following muscle groups (as pictured):

    • Abdominals
    • Back
    • Outer hip
    • Outer hip again
    • Hip flexors
    • Quadriceps
    • Calves
    • Hamstrings
    • Adductors
  4. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    The man himself! Thanks.

    Righty, well the knee twinge comes from doing the crescent kicks and the first kick from the video. It's only on the left leg when kicking with the right leg. The pain is to the front and the inside side of the knee, and feels like it's part of the joint. It's not enough to make me wince even, but it's definitely a teensy 'something'.

    Thanks for the hints on the relaxed stretches! That'll be very helpful. I'll attack those later on.

    Are there any hard and fast rules on developing good form with kicks? Given that there are so many variations in so many martial arts it's probably not a catch-all answer I'll get, but any dos and don'ts to follow?

    Cheers for taking the time to answer I do appreciate this thread an awful lot. It's made a ton of difference to my ability, but still a long way to go! :)
  5. proteinnerd

    proteinnerd Valued Member

    Quick Question regarding the morning routine

    Hi, I noticed in the guide at the beginning of the thread the morning routine does not include a light cardiovascular warm-up. Does this mean that the morning dynamic stretches are done cold? (after joint rotations of course).

    If yes, do you expect / aim to get the same height you would get after a thorough warmup?
  6. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Hi, Proteinnerd.

    Yes, the dynamic stretches in the morning are done 'cold.' Always do joint rotations first, though, particularly hip rotations (which should be done at least 20 times before dynamic stretching).

    The purpose of the morning dynamic stretches is to help reset the nervous regulation of the length of your muscles, so, yes. Once you develop your maximal range of dynamic flexibility, you should be able to kick without a warm up (don't make it a habit, though, it's best to warm up!).
  7. Achilles NZ

    Achilles NZ Valued Member

    ^^^^^ What he said:cool:
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    My apprentice is learning well :cry: <-- Tears of happiness :)
  9. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Does that mean I'm well on my way to being "Van Zandt Certified"? So...proud! :cry: :D
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ye shall be but the first of my army of high kicking minions :evil:
  11. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    *evil laugh* :evil:
  12. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    Right, just got back at it after a few weeks off due to my above post (which I was gonna edit rather than flood the thread.)

    Problem with the knee is gone and I am SURE it was due to my form stressing the knee over time. I'd injured my heel somehow and I'll put it down to not putting the weight on my foot properly. Starting off slow again and WOW you DO lose a fair bit of stretchiness if you don't keep it up.

    I have a couple more questions before my journey towards the dark side is complete.

    How many sets of dynamic stretches are enough? At the moment I'll do two or three.

    Are there any other good alternatives to the back kick the guy in the video does? I can't seem to get decent form on that one - shall I just stick it out until I do?

    Many thanks - and this stuff does indeed work (when you keep it up and do it right! :) )
  13. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Hi, Ninjuries. :)

    Right on, my friend. Consistency is key! :cool:

    The recommended sets and reps are 4-5 sets of 8-12 per leg, per direction, however, if you're just getting into it, be careful that you do not go too far too fast. A tired muscle is not a flexible muscle, so if you get tired during stretching you should probably stop, since you resort more to momentum to raise your leg higher. There was a study that showed the just 3 sets of 10 reps (per leg and per direction) done twice daily increases dynamic flexibility dramatically. Start slow, and don't force anything.

    I don't like the stretches in that video, because they seem to resort to much to momentum. That may not be the case, but it certainly gives the impression. Also, keep in mind that these are not kicks. They are dynamic stretches/leg raises. ;)

    These are the dynamic stretches that I use twice daily, every day:

    a) Leg raise to the front; b) Leg raise to the back; c) Leg raise to the side
    From (

    When I do the front leg raise, I will hit my hand (as shown) to stop its momentum. This is recommended (although not strictly necessary), because it helps your nervous system relax and not worry that your foot will go too high and tear a muscle. Basically, it reduces the myotatic reflex (I'm hazy on the technical terms, Van Zandt, so correct me if I'm wrong!). After my foot hits my hand, I gradually slow it down to a smooth stop a foot and a half or two feet back behind my body while turning my hips a little, and then I repeat. Be careful that you don't jerk your legs around.

    I hold onto a chair with one hand (or both sometimes) when I do my side leg raises, because I feel like it helps me get a better stretch and to control my leg better. However, I do not hit my hand with my foot. I can barely reach my foot!

    I hold onto a chair for the back leg raise too, but you have to be careful you don't get too carried away! By that I mean you must be careful that the raise does not become a full speed and ballistic kick.

    Oh... I think answered more then your questions asked... I get carried away :rolleyes:

    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  14. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    Patrick you are a gentleman and a scholar and that was just what I needed. Thanks so much for getting carried away on my account! :) I'll give all that a spin from tomorrow. :)
  15. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    *Sits back and contemplates retirement*

  16. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Ha! You can't retire until you finish your book, my friend. Don't try to get out of it! :p
  17. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    Okay this is starting to make a difference now that I've got back into my routine and the early mornings have become a habit.

    Seriously, thank you so much Van Zandt and Patrick.

    Are there any good YouTube videos around for the dynamic stretches aside from the initial one already posted? I think I'm doing alright as I've NONE of the previous knee pain anymore and think more 'lift' and less 'swing' with my dynamic stretch routines... But I'm a stickler for good form in all my exercises and I'd love to see a few if anyone's got any roasting good ones or steaming bad ones.

    I did check out the elasticsteel guy here who has some seemingly alright advice, but none of which I'm following just yet in favour of what we have on this thread. Any opinions?

    Again though, I am hugely grateful for all this advice here. I had one of those days waiting for the kettle to boil outside the office and, aiming for the wall, wondered if I could kick someone my height in the face from standing. Turns out I can now. :)
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2010
  18. proteinnerd

    proteinnerd Valued Member

    If you are interested in more info of the elastic steel material, can I offer a shameless plug for my blog that reviews some of his courses.

    Find it at:
  19. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    You're welcome, and great work! :)

    The front, back, and side leg raises should be sufficient for almost any kicks. I wouldn't do more, considering that doing 3-5 sets per leg and per direction is already counting up to 620 leg raises (assuming you do not do the full 5 sets on the back leg raises and that you do them twice a day). Tired muscles aren't flexible muscles, and you might set yourself back.

    Regarding form, there are three things that I have found to help me.

    1. I bend my supporting knee slightly in the front leg raise. I have PPS (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) and my knee clicks or pops when I don't. It's more comfortable and it doesn't seem to effect my stretch negatively.

    2. I turn my supporting foot facing straight away from the direction I am raising my leg. I find this sets me up perfectly to comfortably raise my leg and turn my hips properly.

    3. I turn my hips down and away from my foot (

    Thomas Kurz has a wealth of information on his website, Don't buy anything, though. Everything you need to get the splits is here on MAP. :)

  20. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    Ta for that guys. :) I'll have a good old read later on. :)

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