The beginner's guide to flexibility

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Van Zandt, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Matt B is confused!

    I've read the beginners guide to flexibility a few times now but due to my low mental capacity most evenings these days (work is hards at the moment lol) I'm sure i'm not getting it. So like so many others i thought i would post up a cobbled together work out and beg for feedback...

    Currently i exercise 6 days a week first thing in the morning at the work gym and outside on a Sat morning. Typically 45 mins after i wake up (time to have breakfast, drive to work etc. Within this i do weights (body part split) Mon/Wed/Fri and cardio (nasty anaerobic stuff!) the other days. Currently I do 10 mins at a slow to medium pace warm up on either the treadmill or cross trainer then some basic stretches you see 99% of people doing in the gym.

    What i hope to add to the above is as follows (think i stole this from Superfoot somewhere!):

    1. Rotate all of your joints 10-20 times in each direction.
    2. Lift your legs up and down to the front at knee height 12 times on each leg. Repeat to the side and to the rear.
    3. Lift your legs up and down to the front at waist height 12 times on each leg. Repeat to the side and to the rear.
    4. Lift your legs up and down to the front at chest height 12 times on each leg. Repeat to the side and to the rear.
    5. Lift your legs up and down to the front at shoulder height 12 times on each leg. Repeat to the side and to the rear.
    6. Lift your legs up and down to the front at head height 12 times on each leg. Repeat to the side and to the rear.
    7. Slide into a front split until you feel tension. Wait in the position until the tension disappears (may take several seconds to several minutes). When the tension disappears slide further. Repeat this cycle until you can't go any further. Repeat with the other leg forward.
    8. Repeat #7 with the side split stretch.

    Then with a bit of a warm up do this again in the evening.

    What i'm not sure on is 2 things (i think)...

    1. Is this a good stretching routine to do twice a day every day to get all round results (e.g. can kick higher, harder, hold leg out longer etc)?
    2. Where to fit this in with my warm up - weights/cardio - cool down :rolleyes:

    I havent been to kickboxing much of late (again a work club) but I'm going to make a real effort to go once my instructor and I are both back from hols (in late September). When i go back I'd quite like to 'wow' him by kicking him in the head :p I've worked off about 4kg of body fat with my new routine over the last couple of months and have much stronger lungs to go with it, so this would be a good addition i think. Even if he will just step up a gear and batter me :D
  2. bphan002

    bphan002 Valued Member

    I will try to answer your question hopefully I've gained enough knowledge about stretching from all the wonderful people here on this forum. The stretch routine you mentioned is good and they can be done twice daily. The last part wth the splits are relax stretching and you only really need to do it once a day.

    I would add isometric stretching into your routine 3-4 times a week. This is where you do the splits. Tense your muscles for about 5 seconds. Rest for a second go a little bit further tense up again and repeat till you get to your farthest position and hold for 30 seconds tensing up. Repeat 2-3 reps.

    With your question on kicking higher this will definitely make you kick higher. In terms of strength well since your kicking it'll increase it a little bit, but kicking a bag would increase it more and doing squats/lunges.

    If you want to hold your leg out more I believe this is static active stretching. In order to do this just practice holding out your leg for say 30 seconds and do a couple reps of that and than try to increase the time as you progress.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    The dynamic stretches must be done within fifteen or so minutes upon waking, otherwise they're just not effective. If you find after a few weeks you're not making much progress, you might want to add mild relaxed stretches beforehand (so long as you don't push it too hard).

    Generally speaking, you should try to structure your workouts as such:

    1) Joint rotations
    2) Dynamic stretches
    3) Relaxed stretches

    1) Joint rotations
    2) General warm-up (jogging or marching on the spot, etc)
    3) Dynamic stretches
    4) Strength exercises
    5) Isometric stretches
    6) Relaxed stretches
    7) 1 hour later, cardio (running, cycling etc.)
    8) Relaxed stretches

    The two sets of relaxed stretches in the evening workout (parts # 6 and # 8) are done for different reasons. # 6 augments the gains you make in the isometric stretches; # 8 returns your muscles to their pre-training length after running, and enhances recovery. You must wait an hour between doing # 6 (relaxed stretches) and # 7 (running) because you can't display your maximal contractile strength for up to an hour following relaxed stretches (even mild ones).

    I'll post a new thread in this forum on an example workout on increasing kicking height, so stay tuned for that ;)

    Keep up with your training mate and I wish you luck.

    Yours in health,

  4. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    I really can't train properly in the evenings. Just don't have the energy and/or motivation. I'm very much a morning person! Could i flip that schedule around (so do the morning bit in the evening and vice versa)? I also don't do cardio and weights on the same day so i guess I'd simply omit that depending on the day?
  5. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Yes, as long as you do dynamic stretches in whatever workout within 15 minutes of waking up. That's the key to being able to kick high, cold, at any time throughout the day is to do dynamic stretches immediately.

    Yes, that is fine. Just make sure you do isometric stretches whenever you do your other strength exercises, and not cardio.
  6. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Cheers. I will digest that over the weekend and crack on. Im creature of habit (to the obsessive extent!) so changing my routine to do the dynamic stretching soon as i get up is going to be very painful (mentally) indeed. I'll give it a go though!
  7. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    oh, do Isometric stretches work just fine if i have done strength work but not anything on my legs (as i dont do full body weights)?

    I think the gives me....

    Morning (Mon/Wed/Fri only)
    A. Get up and do numbers 1-6 is described above in my post
    B. Have breakfast, drive to gym at work and....
    1) Joint rotations
    2) Warm up
    3) Strength exercises
    4) Isometric stretches
    5) Relaxed stretches

    Morning (Tues/Thurs/Sat only)
    A. Get up and do numbers 1-6 is described above in my post
    B. Have breakfast, drive to gym at work and....
    1) Joint rotations
    2) Warm up
    4) Relaxed stretches
    5) Cardio work out
    6) Relaxed stretches

    1) Joint rotations
    2) Dynamic stretches
    3) Relaxed stretches

    Guess i will do my core work ummm on the evening i do the cardio?

    RE relaxed and isometric stretches are we essentially talking about the same actions (e.g. spread legs on the floor as wide as possible) but with the isometric you then tense the muscles once you reach as far as you can go?
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Yes, isometric stretches will work fine if you don't do strength exercises for your legs. However, doing strength exercises for your legs will make them more effective by, a) reducing your body's reaction to them (making you less sore afterwards), and b) increasing your rate of progress.
  9. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Not sure if i confused you at all. I do strength training on my legs, but only once a week.
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Bingo :D
  11. Alek

    Alek Valued Member

    Can this evening workout be performed every day? I mean strength training everyday?Or is it better to perform speed training everyother day and strength training with isometric stretches the other days?
  12. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ideally you should take a rest day between strength days.

    Do isometric stretches on whatever day you train strength for your legs.

    Go check out the "Stretching for high kicks" thread as it might explain structuring your workout a bit more clearly.
  13. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Nearly got my full weeks work out finished. I've been doing it in Excel like a geek! Get a few things sorted tonight then it begins with dynamic stretching at 5:30am tomorrow.
  14. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Best of luck to you mate! :cool:
  15. SpikeD

    SpikeD At the Frankenstein Place

    Hi Dan, Some advice please. I have had pain in my left lower leg for some time now, I am seeing a physio (pah) and have been for a few months. I'll get to that in a mo.

    The pain started about 5 months ago and i noticed after a lesson that i had been doing a fair amount of jumping kicks in. The pain was specifically in the shin to the left of my tibia along side the bone and was quite sharp and i had a residual duller pain around the outside of the shin muscle.
    So i was referred to physio who after an examination told me i have tight calf muscles. He thinks that because the calf muscles are tight, as they are being stretched through exercise that they are being 'pulled' from the tendon/bone at the front on my shin where they connect and this is giving me my pain. He recommended anti-inflamatory and stretching [​IMG]
    (small note, when doing this stretch relaxed, if i bring my chin to chest i get a sharp shooting pain down my calf)
    I did as he said for about 7 weeks and it made absolutely no difference. I was ill just after the 7 weeks for a good 10 days and did no stretching and found the pain subsided quite a bit and i only got pain when climbing stairs or dipping the clutch in my car. This seemed counter-intuitive to what he had suggested.
    Anyhoo i then read your post about relaxed-stretching and realised that i was not doing a relaxed stretch (Physio never mentioned that at all) and so i started again with relaxed stretching. I have not been able to train for a few weeks because of an op on an abscess and as such have not put a lot of strain on the area and yet it still hurts and pulls the same. I also have some discomfort around the calf muscle now that i didn't really have before.
    So, finally, i come to the questions. Why would my leg suddenly start hurting after all these years of kung-fu and jumping kicks, climbing stairs and driving. The short calf muscle problem or whatever has always been there and i suspect it is genetic as my son, sister and niece all walked on their toes for a few years and my son (11) has terrible flexibility, he can barely touch his thighs let alone his toes (and he is a lazy git that won't stretch every day). Also, any ideas as to how i can rectify this pain as it hampers my kung-fu training when i go.
    If you can suggest anything that may be of use i will be eternally grateful and promise not to hurt kittens anymore. Thanks for reading this ramble, I hope that somewhere in it there is some sense of english. Regards, Lee.
  16. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Well I've done the evening portion of the workout and I'm going to do my morning stretching in a min (yes i'm doing it backwards!). So thoughts so far...

    1. I think i should probably be doing at least 1 leg exercise in every weight session so i can do the isometric stretches. My further thought was my muscles always ache after doing leg weights as i do train them pretty hard. I read (correctly I think) that isometric stretching shouldnt hurt afterwards. How will i know if it is or not?! If that makes sense!

    2. The rest really doesnt take long!

    3. I could actually hit my hand at (top of) head height on the dynamic stretching (done at 5:30am straight after i got out of bed!)... which surprised me greatly. Now if only i could get to that height on the first swing of the leg eh!

    EDIT: Evening (morning lol) shift now done. I've been doing the relaxed stretches against the pics shown in the high kicking thread along with the dynamic stretches in this thread. OUt of interest, what is the progression on the dynamic stretching? Do you stick to the same routine but aim to get the end poiunt higher faster? Presumably this keeps it safe (i.e. without a warm up)? My front is quite good as i can get toe height above my head. Back isnt too bad (leg bends though?) but side is pretty poor tbh. Chest height at best. I do have a weakness (i feel) in my leg side on for this sort of thing so shoudl feel the most gain there i hope!
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick


    If the physiotherapy hasn't worked then it's usually a sign of misdiagnosis. I certainly don't think tight calves is the cause, as a reduction in flexibility is usually gradual. The fact that it occurred immediately following a lesson (particularly one with jumping jacks - always a bad idea!) leads me to believe it's a trauma injury. Shin splints immediately come to mind:

    Other causes of your pain may be stress fractures or Compartment Syndrome. My advice would be to go back to your doctor and request a second diagnosis. Be sure to tell him that the course of physiotherapy has had no effect. He should then at least put you in for an MRI scan of the area - if he doesn't, then ask for one. It's probably the only sure-fire way to get to the root of the problem (bear in mind I had to make a fuss five or six times with my GP before he put me in for a scan on my hip, which led to the discovery I needed a new one!).

    I fear I shouldn't advise you any more than that (at least before you identify the cause of the problem) in case it aggravates your injury. I would strongly suggest raising the issue with your kung fu instructor, and avoid any high impact activities such as running, jumping and skipping rope. You may want to use a stationary cycle or swimming to build and maintain your fitness while you get sorted out. Be sure to do relaxed stretches that don't hurt, as it's so easy to lay off them and allow your flexibility to worsen.

    Good luck to you, post back if you have any other questions. Please keep us posted on your progress :cool:

    Matt B,

    Set one session aside so you are doing only isometric stretches in your workout. If you get no signs of soreness the day or two afterwards, then you're strong enough to do them. Ideally you should do activities such as weight lifting (squats, deadlifts etc) and running to augment your progress and prevent plateauing.

    When you're able to reach your head height (or over) in all directions during your dynamic stretches, then you can try knocking off a set or two and try reaching your max height earlier/in fewer sets. Ideally you should still build the speed and range of movement over several sets to maintain safety.
  18. SpikeD

    SpikeD At the Frankenstein Place

    Thanks Dan, I was unconvinced with the diagnosis from the start but it's good to have other opinions. I will speak to my physio when i see him in a month but will talk to my doc before then (if i can actually get to see him). I have spoken to my sifu whom has offered to put me in contact with TCM practitioners but i fear i will not be able to afford their services. Oh and it was a jumping kicks not jacks session. Jumping jacks are for navy seals dude, SEALS. LOL.
  19. Matt B

    Matt B Valued Member

    Cheers Dan. I'll swap out the relaxed stretches for isometric on a Friday when i do my legs weight session then. Then that's 3 days of running (2 sprint days and 1 a bit more middle distance) and one day of weights with 1 day of isometrics. We'll see on Sat how that feels!

    My legs felt weaker (best i can describe it) this morning when i did my cardio. Not anything close to sore, just like they have been used! I can see why doing it every day (twice!) is the way to go though.
  20. shinobi#x

    shinobi#x New Member

    thanks for this great info.

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