Improving your flexibility as a Muay Thai fighter allows you to deliver super high kicks while conserving energy as you execute techniques. Improving your flexibility also lowers your risk of injury, increases blood flow, and speeds up the recovery process after your workouts.
How To Improve Your Flexibility For Muay Thai By Stretching Consistently
Let’s take a look at some of the things you should keep in mind when stretching for Muay Thai to get the most out of your sessions:
- Stretch Early: Look to stretch your muscles as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Warm your body up with some light calisthenics, or go for a run before stretching. Make this a daily routine and watch your flexibility improve.
- Avoid Bouncing: Try not to bounce while holding deep stretches since that increases the risk of injury and reduces the benefits you get from stretching.
- Hold Your Stretches: Whenever you feel you’ve maxed out on a stretch, hold it for 30 more seconds before letting go. Aim to hold each stretch for one to two minutes. Try to get three to five reps of each stretch.
- Warm Your Body Up: Stretches are more effective when your body is already warmed up, and blood is flowing to your muscles. This increases your range of motion, allowing you to get more out of your stretches.
- Practice Muay Thai Techniques In Slow Motion: This helps to improve your flexibility, balance, and strength, making your techniques more effective.
- Drinks More Water: Dehydrated muscles and joints are more prone to injury, so make sure you’re properly hydrated to get the most out of your training.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the things you should keep in mind when stretching for Muay Thai, let’s take a look at some of the stretches you should add to your everyday routine to improve your performance in the gym.
1) The Butterfly Stretch
This is one of the easiest ways to stretch your hip adductors. It also prepares your muscles for more advanced stretches like splits. Flexible hip adductors (the muscles in your groin area) are essential to execute many kicking techniques used in Muay Thai. For instance, you need flexible hip adductors to throw roundhouse kicks properly.
The butterfly stretch also stretches your lower back, hips, and inner thigh muscles. It improves flexibility in the inner thigh adductors, which are used to bring your legs together and maintain stability. This pose also opens up your hips, so make it part of your warmup routine if you spend most of your day sitting down since that can cause tight hips.
To perform the exercise:
- Sit on the ground and keep your legs in front of you.
- Grab one of your feet and bring it toward your groin area. Its sole should be facing your opposite thigh.
- Do the same with your other foot, so that your soles are touching each other.
- Grab your feet and rest your elbows on your knees.
- Keep your back straight as you move your knees toward the ground by gently pushing on them with your elbows. Hold the stretch for three minutes, rest, and repeat three to five times.
2) Lunge Stretch
This exercise increases flexibility in your hip flexors, allowing you to move your legs faster and freer when throwing kicks. It is another effective exercise for loosening tight hips from cycling or sitting for long periods. It helps to develop the full range of motion in your hip flexors, leading to faster, more powerful kicks.
Here’s how to perform a lunge stretch:
- Get into a split stance with your right leg forward and your left leg behind you.
- Bend your right knee, so your upper and lower leg form a 90-degree angle at your knees. This puts you in a forward lunge position.
- Put your hands on your right knee, keep your hips even and relax your shoulders. Push down on your knee with your hands and drive your hips forward until you feel a stretch at the front of your thigh, groin, and hip. Hold the stretch for one to two minutes and switch sides.
3) Sumo Squat Stretch
Here’s what it looks like:
- Stand upright with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Turn your feet at a 45-degree angle facing away from your body. Don’t force the position, just try to get your feet facing away from you as much as possible.
- Squat down until your ankles, knee, and hips form a 90-degree angle.
- Place your hands on the inner part of your knees and push outward to open up your legs for the stretch. Hold the position for one to two minutes before letting go. Repeat three to five times.
4) Center Splits
Center splits are one of the best stretches for your groin area, and it helps prepare your body for front splits. You don’t need to be able to do a full split to enjoy the benefits of this stretch. Just go as low as you can comfortably go and hold the position to stretch your groin muscles from multiple angles. Add this split to your training routine if you want to be able to throw super high roundhouse kicks.
You should always warm your body up and perform basic stretches like the butterfly before attempting center splits.
Here’s what you do:
- Step your feet out as far as you can and put your hands on your hips.
- Lower your upper body until your hands are on the floor. Shift your hips back and forth to ease into the stretch.
- Point your feet inward and pull your kneecaps towards your hips. Keep most of your weight on your hands as you drop your hips toward the floor.
5) Front Splits
Here’s another advanced stretch that targets your hip flexors and adductor muscles. You might have to work your way up to it with lunge stretches and butterflies. Here’s what it looks like:
- Get into a lunge position with the knee of your back leg down on the ground.
- Place your hands on your hips and keep your front foot flat on the ground. Keep your back toes pointing away from you with the back of your foot on the ground.
- Glide your front foot outward and move your back leg backward while dropping your hips to the mat. Feel free to use your hands to stabilize yourself as you drop into the stretch.
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