The 3 Best Stretches for Kickboxing
Improve your kickboxing and minimize injuries with 3 of the best kickboxing stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published March 6, 2009 | Updated March 28, 2019
Head-guards, mouth guards, gloves, groin protectors, shin guards and kickboxing boots were introduced and the early matches were contested in open areas before moving to a regular sized ring. The fight between the proficient American and the Japanese fighters started international kickboxing. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Bill Blanks, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace are some of the famous kick fighters.
Muscles used in Kickboxing
Kickboxing requires good endurance to fight through multiple rounds. The use of the legs for kicking and the upper body for various strikes and blocks requires good flexibility and strength in these areas. Agility and quickness are also essential to the kick boxer.
Strength in the hips and legs is important to provide a solid base and good balance. A strong upper body is important for delivering powerful blows and absorbing the blows of an opponent. Core muscular strength is also important to protect the body from the blows during a fight.
Kickboxing requires the use of the following major muscle groups:
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the pectorals, the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the deltoids.
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
- The muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps, and the triceps.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
- The muscles of the neck and the trapezius.
A kick boxer must follow a good strength and conditioning program to prepare the body for the rigors of a fight. Good strength to protect the bones and joints, cardiovascular conditioning to make it through the entire fight, and good flexibility to be able to move and strike at various angles are all essential to the kick boxer.
Most Common Kickboxing Injuries
Kickboxing, even with the many safeguards and extensive safety equipment, can be a dangerous sport by nature. The body is subjected to various violent blows and the intent of the contest is to knock the other fighter to the ground, or render him unconscious.
Acute injuries are common in kickboxing. The different strikes to the head and body can lead to many injuries including:
- Concussion, rib fracture and broken nose;
- Muscle bruises and contusions;
- Sprained ankles and wrists;
- Shoulder tendinitis and dislocation;
- Lower back and neck pain; and
- Shin splints.
Injury Prevention Strategies
A good overall conditioning program and practice in proper form and technique will keep the kick boxer performing at peak levels and reduce injuries.
- Fighting in sanctioned fights with a referee and in an approved ring will cut down on the chances for severe injury.
- Good instruction from a qualified instructor and practice of proper technique will also reduce the chance of acute and chronic injury.
- Always warm-up properly prior to training and especially competition.
- Allow an adequate cool-down period and perform after training/competition stretching.
- Proper cardiovascular conditioning will prevent fatigue and other overuse injuries.
- Muscular endurance and strength are both essential to the kick boxer to reduce fatigue and protect the body from the violent impact of the many blows endured in a fight.
- A solid stretching program will improve flexibility and prepare the muscles for the demands that will be placed on them during a fight. A flexible fighter will be able to move better to avoid strikes and get into position to deliver blows, as well.
The 3 Best Kickboxing Stretches
Kickboxing stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.
Below are 3 of the best stretches for kickboxing; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 3). Kickboxing, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Lystad, R. (2015). Injuries to Professional and Amateur Kickboxing Contestants: A 15-Year Retrospective Cohort Study. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine,.
- Zazryn, T. Finch, C. McCrory, P. (2003). A 16 year study of injuries to professional kickboxers in the state of Victoria, Australia. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 37:448-451.
- Gartland, S. Malik, M. Lovell, M. (2001). Injury and injury rates in Muay Thai kick boxing. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 35, Issue 5.
- Buse, G. Santana, J. (2008). Conditioning strategies for competitive kickboxing. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 30(4), 42-48.
- Costa, P. Medeiros, H. Fukuda, D. (2011). Warm-up, stretching, and cool-down strategies for combat sports. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(6), 71-79.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.