Flexibility is a critical aspect in Muay Thai. What good is being strong when you can’t even throw a high kick or a knee, and be able to defend or do a counter offensive in that split second time frame? Flexibility is a crucial aspect in performing various offensive and defensive techniques in Muay Thai or in any martial arts discipline. Lack of it will not only hinder your chances of winning, it can also cause knee or back issues. Though it is innate in everyone, flexibility needs to be enhanced if one wants to be good in any combat sport– and when it comes to Muay Thai, stretching routines make it possible. Here’s what you need to learn about them.
- Stretching exercises in Muay Thai is not at all that different from other disciplines. Even some advanced fighters of the sport practice yoga, Pilates, and other stretching platforms to help improve their flexibility in performing various physical feats. In hindsight, stretching also helps improve blood flow, coordination, and stability. It also helps prevent injuries and aids in recovery time.
- The kind of flexion you need in Muay Thai is directly correlated to the stretching routines that need to be performed. There are three types of flexions– dynamic or kinetic (great for kicking or somersault moves), static active (needed for kicking), and static passive (for defensive moves). Maneuvering out of a clinch, for instance, will give you more chances of success by combining these three flexions.
- Though training centers in Muay Thai can carve their own stretching routines, there are actually 6 types of stretching continually used up to this day– ballistic stretching, dynamic stretching, active stretching, static/passive stretching, isometric stretching, and PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching. Of the 6 types of stretching types, however, ballistic stretches are known to be unpopular these days due to their risks of tears and injuries. Muay Thai training sessions often focus on dynamic, active, static/passive, and isometric stretches. PNF stretches are also being used, but mostly for advanced fighters and when in preparation for more competitive battles ahead.
- Stretching routines in Muay Thai are done two ways. One is during warm up (pre-training/fight), and another one when “cooling down” (post-training/fight). Warm up stretches are usually done to loosen the muscles and boost one’s heart rate. This is usually done to prepare fighters or trainees for a vigorous training or fight ahead as well as in reducing potential injuries. During warm up exercises, a trainee or a fighter must focus on problem areas– hamstrings, biceps, triceps, adductor, quads, glutes, hip flexor, and so on.
- After training or a fight, stretching routines are also needed to cool down the body. What you do after an intense Muay Thai fight or training is actually as important as the training itself. Muscle tissues begin their recovery to build strength and to retain flexion. After pushing yourself to the limit, it is quite easy to just slump down and be done with it, but no! Stretching routines are great for cooling down after a Muay Thai fight or training session. These stretches are often done to relax the muscles, release tension and allow flow of blood and oxygen to the body. By allowing your body temperature to go down closer to normal levels, you can prevent the onset of injuries from muscle spasms and cramps.
- To learn more about proper stretching routines, here’s a training video on Muay Thai for you to check out.
Bottom line is: Muay Thai stretching routines are important not just in flexibility and performance but in preventing injuries and aiding muscle recovery as well. These exercises must be done before and after strenuous training or activities. Stretching,however, is just one part of the various aspects of flexibility. You need to also work on core development and joint stabilizers as well as with other areas of flexion.