MMA flexibility isn’t only useful for throwing a high kick from Muay Thai or grappling on the ground using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s also vital for preventing injuries and maximizing muscle recovery. Despite this, a fighter’s flexibility is often neglected or only considered after an injury has occurred, especially by beginners in the sport.
As someone who practices MMA, I know that flexibility is essential. Flexible fighters have a substantial advantage in the ring against opponents lacking in that department. The sport requires so many different movements and positions that are much harder when your body doesn’t want to comply.
Don’t worry if you think flexibility is holding you back from achieving your MMA goals. Regularly performing dynamic stretching, static stretching, and yoga is a fantastic way to gain more MMA flexibility.
Do you want to land that roundhouse kick to the head? Or maybe start tapping people from the rubber guard? In this article, we will go over the specific benefits of stretching and how you can increase your flexibility in a relatively short amount of time.
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The Importance of Stretching in MMA
Stretching is an integral part of the preparation required to increase your MMA flexibility. You’ll need more than high muscular endurance and strength levels to reach your goals as a martial artist.
Flexibility is also important to better control your training partner and get the tap. Here, we’ll go over the crucial ways that stretching can help you improve your performance.
Improving Your Range of Motion
The distance your joints can move in any direction, known as your range of motion, will impact your fighting ability. A fighter who has more range of motion than their opponent will have a distinct advantage in the ring.
By stretching joints used to perform punches, kicks, and grapples, you can dramatically increase your range of motion and improve your MMA flexibility. However, be careful not to over-extend joints beyond your physical ability.
Forget about “no pain, no gain”
Slowly increase what you’re capable of by regularly performing stretching exercises for mixed martial arts, and you will start to see results faster than you think. Consistency and kindness with your joints are the keys to your progress here.
Enhancing Your Fighting Performance
Stretching your tightened muscles as a cool-down after your training sessions is a great way to speed up your recovery time and increase your muscle mass. Stretching allows your muscles to take and give out more of a beating. You’ll quickly notice a difference in your fighting ability if you incorporate a stretching routine into your workout regime.
Any MMA practitioner knows that striking critical points on the human body can result in severe damage, stunning, or even knocking out your opponent. For example, if you want to execute the perfect roundhouse kick to the jaw of your opponent, you should be stretching your knees, calves, thighs, and hips.
With regular stretching, you’ll find that you have increased neuromuscular coordination. Your reactions will be faster, your muscles will respond to you with improved efficiency, and your punches and kicks will be more accurate.
Besides improving your fighting performance, stretching is essential to preventing various injuries resulting from overly tight muscles. Your ligaments, muscles, tendons, joint capsules, and skin are all impacted by stretching. For example, stretching can strengthen your hamstrings, a key stabilizing muscle of the knee, preventing ACL tears from occurring.
MMA is a sport that already injures participants at a much higher rate than others. You should have an MMA stretching routine before and after every session to reduce your chance of getting hurt. While stretching can’t entirely prevent the possibility of getting injured, not stretching can dramatically increase the likelihood of this happening.
Improving Your Circulation
The feeling of tight muscles is essentially a lack of oxygen to those areas of the body. Stretching opens up circulatory pathways and increases your heart rate, leading to increased oxygen supplies to your muscles.
Increased blood flow doesn’t only affect muscles, but your joints as well. As we’ve stated before, increased range of motion is an important benefit of stretching. By increasing the blood flow to your joints, you can improve your range of motion and prevent injuries resulting from overextension.
The Best Way to Get Flexible Fast for MMA
Incorporating a regular before and after stretching routine is the best and fastest way to gain flexibility for MMA. Many MMA fighters’ rule of thumb is stretching twice a day maintains your flexibility, while stretching three times per day will enhance flexibility.
Also, interset stretching is a proven way to develop your flexibility. This clinical study evidences the benefits of stretching for untrained individuals. For trained fighters, the advantages are even more apparent.
The Core Principles Of Effective MMA stretching Training
The following principles will prepare you for successful stretching sessions, no matter your experience level:
- Focus on major muscle groups – Stretch the muscle groups you plan to use in your fighting style, including your calves, hips, thighs, lower back, neck, and shoulders.
- Warm-up your muscles before stretching – Trying to stretch before your muscles are warmed up can lead to pain, even an injury. Do a low-intensity warmup that activates your major muscle groups before stretching.
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds – It takes time to stretch your muscles properly. For each muscle group, one stretch is usually sufficient, and you shouldn’t do it too quickly.
- Don’t bounce to get into position – If you aren’t hitting the point you want to, like touching your fingers to your toes, don’t bounce your body to get there. Slowly reach until you get into the correct position. If you can’t, practice until you can.
- Aim for a pain-free stretch – You shouldn’t be in pain during any type of stretch. If you are, you are probably overextending your joints and muscles.
- Breathe – Never hold your breath while stretching, as it tightens your muscles by reducing the oxygen supplied to them.
As I’ll cover later in the article, dynamic and static stretching, as well as yoga, are great methods to improve your flexibility. Here, I’ll give you the perfect MMA stretching routine. With this information, you’ll be able to prepare yourself for any fight and also include a healthy, daily stretching routine for your overall health.
MMA Stretching Routine
If you’re looking to get more flexible without putting too much time into it, this stretching routine could be perfect for you. You can incorporate it into your daily training schedule without much hassle. You can do it alone or invite other people to join you in the stretch.
After you take a hot shower in the morning, perform the following dynamic and static MMA stretches to increase flexibility. Your muscles will be activated by the warm water, decreasing the time you need to get them loose and ready.
- Head rotations neck stretch – Keep your head square over your shoulders and back as straight as possible. Turn your head slowly until you feel your neck start to stretch. Release and repeat for the other side up to 10 times.
- Small-to-big arm circles – Extend your arms outright to your sides. Start rotating them in a small circle, slowly growing into a larger one until you use the full range of motion from your shoulder socket.
- Standing toe touch – Standing with your feet hip-width apart, extend your arms above your head and slowly bend until you reach your fingers to your toes.
- Knee tuck – Sitting with your butt on the ground, put your arms behind you at shoulder width. Then lift your feet and tuck your knees toward your chest, in and out.
- Trunk twist – Lay with your back on the ground, your knees pointed upward, and your feet flat. Slowly rotate your torso until your leg rests on the opposite side of the ground. Hold and repeat for the other side.
If you perform this routine daily, either after a hot shower or after a workout, you will notice that your flexibility increases substantially.
Is Yoga Good for MMA?
It’s a pretty well-known fact that yoga is excellent for improving muscle flexibility and overall body strength. Despite its benefits, yoga is still generally viewed as a mild exercise routine unfit for intensive fighting sports. However, yoga sessions could be an intense isometric exercise.
Isometrics are exercises that imply muscle contraction without movement, a plank is a great example. The type of strength that you can develop from doing isometric yoga movements is transferable to MMA. When you perform a choke or control an opponent with a grip on their BJJ gi you’re using isometric strength.
Yoga differs from standard strength training and stretching routines in that it activates numerous muscle groups at once, sometimes the whole body. The various positions improve your ability to stretch and strengthen the stabilizing muscles that impact your fighting performance.
Aside from the physical benefits of yoga in MMA, the advantages to your mentality in the ring are profound. By emphasizing breathing, meditation, and mental focus, you’ll find that your mental state in the middle of the fight is calm and collected, no matter the situation.
Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching
Two types of stretching can improve your MMA performance: Dynamic and Static. In this section, I’ll cover how they are different and the benefits of both.
Dynamic stretching is a fancy term for stretching using motion. Many studies have backed up the effectiveness of dynamic stretching regarding performance in various sports.
When fighters practice with some light shadowboxing before a match, they stimulate the muscles they are about to use in the ring. This readies the muscles for intensive use and increases their explosive power and range of motion.
Not only is dynamic stretching good for actual fighting, but other types of preparation as well. It is hugely beneficial for weight lifting, as it helps your muscles recover faster and increases their extension capabilities.
Performing dynamic stretching before practicing MMA is the best way to improve your flexibility. However, realizing its full benefits is impossible unless done consistently.
While dynamic stretching acts as a warm-up, static stretching is primarily a cool-down, best practiced after you have already been fighting.
Essentially, static stretching involves positioning a muscle and holding that position for a specific amount of time. Typically, a static stretch lasts for anywhere between 10 to 30 seconds, with 3 to 5 sets for each stretch.
Static stretching is a useful way to increase muscle hypertrophy, a scientific way of saying gaining muscle size and mass. The advantages of bigger muscles in MMA can’t be understated, giving you more power, if at the expense of some speed.
Also, static stretching is especially helpful in increasing your range of motion, shown by this study into hip-flexion. You need a sufficient range of motion to perform the standard strikes, Muay Thai kicks, and grapples MMA requires and adapt to any situation that presents itself. This is particularly useful for rolling and other modes of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Finding a Balance Between Dynamic and Static streching
To practice static and dynamic stretching effectively, you should target the muscle groups you use most during your MMA bouts.
If there is a specific area of your body that feels tight after a fight, target it with static stretching. Conversely, if you face an opponent weak against left-handed strikes, practice left-striking in your shadowboxing routine beforehand.
You might be worried that increased muscle mass will reduce your speed, an essential component of a good fighter. However, combining static and dynamic stretching can help you increase your muscle mass while retaining speed and explosive power.
Yoga is an outstanding way to strike a balance between the two. Yoga positions require dynamic movement but often result in static stretching when you hold the position.
Final Thoughts About MMA Flexibility
Hopefully, it’s clear to you now that stretching is the best way to improve your MMA flexibility. Using the steps I’ve covered, including a daily stretch routine, yoga, and incorporating both dynamic and static stretches before and after your workouts, you’ll reach your goals faster than you thought possible.
If you want some more tips on how to improve your MMA game, view more articles from me on our martial arts guides page. Also, show us your results! Test your flexibility before and after using the tips I’ve provided, and let us know how you do!
With just a little more daily work put into your stretching routine, you could easily achieve results that you never thought were possible before. Focus on technique and make sure that your body is always in the proper position no matter how easy or difficult the exercise may seem to be.