Okay, I know you’re a badass. But you don’t need to do crazy stretches to improve your flexibility for karate.

And you actually shouldn’t. Pushing yourself too hard while stretching significantly increases your risk of injury. And if you get injured, guess what? You won’t be heading to the dojo anytime soon. ☹

So how can you maximize the benefits of stretching, while limiting the risk of injury?

Try neuromuscular stretching (NMS). Also known as PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching, NMS is a really effective form of flexibility training for martial arts. Specifically:

  • NMS stretching increases range of motion (ROM) as effectively as does static stretching;
  • NMS stretching is as effective as active or dynamic stretching, but with a reduced risk of injury; and
  • NMS stretching increases flexibility without the loss of power that can occur with static stretching.

So with neuromuscular stretching, you can increase your range of motion without necessarily sacrificing power—AND without hurting yourself in the process.

Check out this video for 5 neuromuscular stretches you can do using your karate belt. Be sure to perform each stretch slowly and under control, stopping if you feel any pain or discomfort.

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Here are the 4 stages in neuromuscular stretching:

  1. Stretch to the end-range ROM and hold for 10 seconds.
  2. Actively contract the target muscle for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Passively move the target muscle to a new end-range ROM.
  4. Statically stretch the muscle at the new end-range for another 20 to 30 seconds.

This cycle can be repeated up to a total of three times.

And that’s it! Neuromuscular stretching is a safe and effective way to boost your flexibility for martial arts.  Add it to your training routine today.

Recommended Resources

Here are some great books to help you improve your habits, focus, and mental game:

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You’re reading How to Improve Flexibility for Karate (Without Injuring Yourself) by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!