Muay Thai requires a great deal of flexibility.
To throw lofty high kicks and avoid puling any muscles, you need limber legs in particular.
Lots of people ask me how they should stretch for Muay Thai, so I’ve put together this quick guide to show you how to limber up before a training session, and how to increase the flexibility of your legs over time.
- Pre and post training stretching
- Stretching to increase flexibility
- The importance of stretching for Muay Thai
Pre and post training stretching
Stretching before and after you train is vital if you want to avoid muscle injury.
Many people overlook it, but you should stretch your entire body before you train – whether it’s at the gym or at home.
You should also ensure your muscles are warm before you start stretching – a brisk walk to the gym, or light skip should be enough to do this.
- Start with a light skip
- Loosen the shoulders by rolling them round
- Stretch the arms up and clasp your hands together
- Roll your neck slowly side to side, up and down
- Loosen your chest by stretching your arms out wide and pushing your hands back
- Twist your torso to stretch your back and hips
- Rotate your hips in a circular motion
- Swing your legs to loosen them up for kicking
In addition to the video, you can also throw in some classic hamstring, calf and quad stretches.
Stretches for increasing flexibility
If you want to improve your Muay Thai game, you need to be more flexible than the average person.
To achieve this, you need to dedicate some serious time inside and outside of the gym to stretching.
Realistically, you should be stretching at least 5 times a week to seriously improve your flexibility.
In particular, you need to hold deep stretches that focus on your hamstrings, hips, groin and lower back.
This video from Bang Muay Thai has a great stretching routine for overall leg flexibility.
For best results, I would recommend holding each stretch for longer than the 5 seconds in this video, and try to push gradually deeper into each stretch for 30 secs to 2 minutes.
Don’t thrust into the stretches to quickly, and don’t force your body too hard – if you feel a lot of pain, ease back slightly and hold.
Here’s a run down of the stretches.
- Hamstrings – Stand with your feet together facing forward, lean down from the hips and touch your toes (or as far down your shins as you can manage)
- Groin, back and hips – Whilst facing forward, spread you feet apart as wide as you can. Then lean forward and bring your hands to the floor, walk your hands forward as far as you can, and then backwards as far as you can. Then move your right hand to your right foot, hold, and repeat with the left
- Groin – From the splits position, rotate you hips and feet 90 degrees so that you are in a lunge position, push your hips forward
- Groin and back – From the splits position, move onto your heels and sit down on the floor with your feet as wide apart as you can manage. From there, lean forward and stretch your arms out on to the floor.
- Hamstring and back – From the sitting splits position, lean to the right, place your hand on your right foot and hold. Repeat for the left.
- Groin – Sit on the floor with your feet pressed together in front of you and push your thighs downwards with your leg
The importance of stretching for Muay Thai
Stretching is an important part of any martial art if you want to remain injury free and perform to your best ability.
Reducing the risk of muscle injury
The number one reason that you need to stretch for Muay Thai is to properly prepare your muscles for your training and avoid any strains, pulls or snaps.
Diving straight into a vigorous form of training like Muay Thai with cold stiff muscles is a recipe for disaster.
Your whole body needs to be limber, from you neck down to your ankles before you start doing pad work, sparring or any proper element of training.
If you fail to warm up and stretch properly before training then you open yourself to a whole range of injuries from calf cramp to a pulled hamstring. These types of injuries can be very painful and may keep you out of the gym for weeks.
Having flexibility in you legs and lower back is crucial if you want to throw kicks with proper form and have the ability to reach your opponents’ heads with you high kicks.
Regular stretching and pushing yourself gradually over time will achieve great improvements in your flexibility