Who wouldn’t want to be more flexible?

I mean, being able to touch your toes is basically the human version of winning a limbo contest at the flexibility Olympics. Limber gold, anyone?

Flexibility is important for both us women and men, but there are specific reasons why it holds particular significance for women.

Injury Prevention

Flexibility plays a crucial role in injury prevention. Women, on average, may have a higher risk of certain injuries, such as ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries in the knee. Improved flexibility helps in maintaining joint integrity and reducing the risk of muscle strains and tears during physical activities.

Flexibility training helps maintain a balanced muscle length throughout the body. Muscle imbalances can lead to poor biomechanics and increase the likelihood of injuries. 

By promoting even flexibility across muscle groups, women can reduce the risk of strains and overuse injuries.

Enhanced Range of Motion

Good flexibility allows for an increased range of motion in joints. This is especially beneficial for women in various activities, from daily movements to exercise routines. It can enhance performance in dance, fitness routines, different sports like for example – kickboxing!

Day-to-day activities often require a combination of movements in different directions. Even the seemingly simple act of picking up your sports bag from the ground becomes a flexibility triumph! Improved range of motion ensures that women can bend, twist, reach, and move comfortably, making tasks such as reaching for items, bending down, or turning more manageable.

Improved Posture

Does working in an office and sitting long hours at a desk, having constant body aches sound familiar to you? Flexibility contributes to better posture. Many women, particularly those having office jobs, can develop tight muscles, leading to poor posture. 

Enhanced flexibility helps in maintaining proper alignment and reduces the likelihood of chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.

Menstrual Health

Some women may experience discomfort and muscle tension during their menstrual cycle. Stretching and flexibility exercises can help alleviate muscle tightness and reduce cramps, contributing to better overall well-being.

Gentle stretching and flexibility exercises can help alleviate muscle tension and cramps associated with menstrual cycles. 

Targeting areas like the lower back, hips, and abdomen can provide relief and promote comfort during this time.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Flexibility can be beneficial during pregnancy and childbirth.

Maintaining good flexibility in the hips and pelvic region can be particularly beneficial during pregnancy. This enhanced flexibility can make daily movements, such as bending, reaching, and turning, more comfortable as the body undergoes changes.

It is also beneficial to a faster recovery postpartum. Flexible muscles and joints are generally more adaptable, which may aid in the recovery process as the body adjusts to its pre-pregnancy state.

But how can you improve the flexibility to perform better in daily routines and in sports? 

Kickboxing is a dynamic martial art that involves a combination of kicks, punches, and other striking techniques. Improving flexibility is important in kickboxing as it allows for a greater range of motion, enhances performance, and reduces the risk of injuries. Here are some ways to improve flexibility specifically for kickboxing:

Dynamic Warm-up

Start your kickboxing session with a dynamic warm-up. Dynamic stretches involve moving parts of your body through a full range of motion. This helps increase blood flow to your muscles and prepares your body for more intense movements. 

Include leg swings, arm circles, and torso twists in your warm-up routine.

Static Stretching

Perform static stretches after your dynamic warm-up and at the end of your kickboxing session. 

Focus on stretching the muscles used in kickboxing, such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, calves, and shoulders. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, and repeat as needed. Examples of static stretches include standing toe touches, hip flexor stretches, and calf stretches.

Incorporate Yoga

Yoga is an excellent complement to kickboxing as it emphasizes flexibility, balance, and core strength. 

Consider adding yoga sessions to your training routine. Poses like downward dog, pigeon pose, and warrior poses can help improve flexibility in the hips, legs, and upper body.

Foam Rolling

Use a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release (SMR) on tight muscles. 

Foam rolling can help release tension in muscles and improve flexibility. Pay attention to areas like the calves, quadriceps, and IT band. Roll back and forth over each muscle group for 1-2 minutes before or after your kickboxing session.

Dynamic Stretching for Kicks

Practice dynamic stretches that mimic the kicking movements in kickboxing. High kicks, front kicks, and roundhouse kicks can be performed slowly and controlled to enhance your range of motion. 

Gradually increase the height and speed of your kicks, don’t rush it!

Emphasize proper technique and fluidity of motion to improve flexibility in the hips and thighs.

Consistency is Key

Ahh yes, the consistency! We cannot emphasize this enough!

Flexibility gains take time, so be consistent with your stretching routine. Aim to stretch regularly, even on days when you’re not engaged in training. Flexibility is a gradual process, and progress will come with regular practice.

Listen to Your Body

Be mindful of your body’s limits and avoid forcing yourself into uncomfortable positions. 

This is the classic case when we overpush ourselves.

Stretching should feel challenging but NOT painful. If you feel pain, ease off the stretch to prevent injury and don’t forget to exhale at the peak of your stretch!

Remember that flexibility is just one component of overall fitness. In addition to working on flexibility, incorporate strength training, cardiovascular exercise, and skill-specific kickboxing drills into your training routine for a well-rounded approach to improving your kickboxing performance.

 

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