Kickin’ Cooldown: Post-Kickboxing Stretches
Kickboxing is an empowering class that builds confidence and improves balance, cardiovascular endurance, proprioception, strength and dynamic flexibility. It’s an effective total-body workout, especially when taught correctly, with key tenets in mind. Some say kickboxing is on the downswing; however, it’s possible that any decline in popularity is due, not to the format itself, but to how it’s being taught (or mistaught). It continues to be a staple in many facilities.
Before teaching kickboxing, it’s best to be proficient in the moves, so that students get the most from your demonstrations and cues. Repetition is key when learning combinations, so incorporate reps that allow students to practice skills safely. This approach may be more appealing to many than a “choreographed” class.
Lead the following stretches at the end of your next kickboxing workout.
Squat to Forward Fold
This move helps maintain ankle flexibility and stretches the hamstrings, which play a large role in kick recoils.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands overhead. Squat, placing hands on floor.
- Keep body as upright as possible while keeping heels in contact with ground (frog position). Hips are lower than shoulders; chest is up.
- Extend knees for hamstring stretch (similar to forward fold). Hands remain on floor or shins.
- Return to squat; stand up again, arms overhead.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
Many people have tight hips, which can limit lateral movement and range of motion on side and roundhouse kicks. This stretch alleviates tension and improves range of motion. An overly tight tensor fasciae latae can also contribute to knee alignment issues, so this is a good stretch to lead in any multiplanar-motion class.
- Start in standing position.
- Cross left leg behind right, keeping both feet flat on floor.
- Sink L hip laterally away from midline, allowing R hand to fall alongside body. Reach L hand up toward ceiling; gaze down to R hand.
- Keep L foot crossed behind, and return to starting position.
- Flow in and out of stretch, going farther each time. As you push hip away from back foot, rotate pelvis to “hit” different muscle fibers.
Hip-Flexor Stretch With Rotation
Tight hip flexors may contribute to lower-back pain and discomfort, and many kicks require use of these muscles. Target them at the end of class to open the hips, and balance the workout by incorporating triple-extension-focused exercises, such as squats and lunges.
- Start in runner’s lunge (front knee at 90 degrees), back knee on floor.
- Interlace hands behind head. Keep spine long and slowly rotate torso toward front leg. Hold.
- Next, rotate away from front leg as far as you can.
- At end of ROM, square shoulders to front foot and reach up and overhead with both arms, lengthening anterior chain.
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