Flexibility and cross training

G

girlychuks

Guest
Hello all!
baby beginner here- in kempo karate for three months now, and just started sparring. I am 25 and used to be a champion cross country runner before my knees blew out at the age of 15, then i sat around and got fat.
Now three months later and 23 pounds lighter, i have started to spar, and it KICKED my butt. I can;t believe three minutes could be so aerobic.
So IU started running 20 minutes on the days I don't have karate. Ever since I started this, stretching has become a LOT harder.
I used to be be able to do full splits (right leg in front of me) and about 4 inches from the floor ( with my left leg in front of me), and get pretty far down with full chinese splits too.
Now the whole arodeal ius painful, whcih it never was before, and I am so much les flexible,
Any tips on how to cross train and still remain flexible? I devote 10-15 minutes to stretching twice a day 9morning and night) and hole each stretch for 20 seconds.
Why am I so stiff, honorable senseis, when i was so limber before??:confused:
best regards, and thank you for your help (bows out) -Cathy
 
Do you properly warm up before you run? Cool down?

Stiffness may be only temporary as your legs re-adapt to the requirments of running.

proper prep is the key to success. :)

)now, if I could take my own adice.) ;)
 
I am by no means a flexibility expert, but I would suggest making sure you do a full stretching routine after you run, since your leg muscles will be warmed up. Stretch a little before running just to loosen up a bit, but stretch for flexibility after the run.

Also, you just may be working the stretches too much. The muscles need time to heal. Maybe try reducing the amount of stretching to twice a day every other day, or just once a day.

Cthulhu
 
Originally posted by Cthulhu
I am by no means a flexibility expert, but I would suggest making sure you do a full stretching routine after you run, since your leg muscles will be warmed up. Stretch a little before running just to loosen up a bit, but stretch for flexibility after the run.

Also, you just may be working the stretches too much. The muscles need time to heal. Maybe try reducing the amount of stretching to twice a day every other day, or just once a day.

Cthulhu

I would concur with Cthulhu. I do Yoga, Aikido, and weight training. Yoga and Aikido improved my flexibility some, but the best thing so far has been the weights. Why?

Because of the routine:

Warm up - mini-stretch (legs and back mostly, couple of minutes)
Workout (I super-set so I never let my heart rate drop, but more relevant to the conversation, I never let my muscles cool down).
Stretch for 10-15 minutes.

In general I hold each stretch for a good 30 seconds.

Don't hold the stretch at the point of pain, but a little discomfort is ok. You need to feel it but if it *hurts* then your muscles will actually contract to fight off the overstretch and you won't get any benefit.

When you're running, stretch after, not before. And *always* stretch, don't get lazy and let it go :)

Pierre
 
Running is cool, but it is what you do while you're running that makes all of the difference.

Stretch from head to toe...

Neck rotations; shoulder rotations; waist rotation; hip rotations; knee rotations; hamstring stretch; quad stretch; calf stretch; and ankle rotation.

For instance, take a short run of 1.5 miles. After a quarter mile, drop down and knock out a few push-ups. At the half mile mark, drop down and knock out a few stomach cruches. At the three quarter mark, duck walk about 20 paces. At the one mile mark, knock out about 15 squat thrusts. For the last half mile, throw puches and kicks and other techniques. Also, make sure that you're working on your evasive footwork and angling.

Your lung power will be remarkably enhanced.

When you're done, perform the head to toe stretch routine again and then pay special attention to your problem areas. Since you're concerned with you splits, work on strengthening/strecthing your hip flexor muscles. Holding a proper horse stance for 3 to 5 minutes also helps your hip flexor muscles immensely.

If you want to work out at home, look into devising a circuit training routine yourself. You'd be surprised how you can build your cardio in 10 minutes. Also, look into body weight exercises as opposed to weight training. Not to say that anything is wrong with weight training, but if you want flexibility and functional strength, body weight exercises are the way to go. There are some professional athletes that only use body weight exercises.

A prime example is the world light-heavyweight boxing champion Roy Jones, Jr. He is in phenomenal shape and mows down all competition yet he does not lift any weights. Matt Furey is a former Shuai Chiao (Chinese wrestling) world champion who was the first non-Chinese to win the international competition. He wrote a book on body weight exercises called COMBAT CONDITIONING. He did not develop these exercises, but he compiled the "wisdom of the ancients" into his book. I own this book and I recommend it, but you can probably get some of the same info for a lot less money or even free by running a search on google.

I hope this helps.:asian:
 
Try a larger range of motion exercise for your aerobic conditioning, particularly since running has caused you injuries (?) in the past. The short stride involved in jogging can tighten hamstrings and adducters (inside of thigh) fairly quickly.

Good examples of large range of motion (ROM) exercise might be:
1)Kata -- wide low stances have a large ROM, kicking provides a dynamic stretch. Pace yourself, repeat forms as/if needed to give >=20 mins of constant exercise. Light bag work works great too and can be divided into rounds of similar duration to your sparring sessions: remember that exercise is highly specific (but you know that from your track days).

2)Swimming -- try different strokes and kicks. Flutter kick has a small ROM whereas frog kick and scissors kick have a fairly large ROM. Swimming is excellent for shoulder girdle integrity and trunk flexibility.

3) Power walking -- use an exaggerated stride to increase the ROM. Mix it in with jogging to lessen the tightening effect.

4) Elliptical running machines -- if you belong to a gym, this is a good way to go. Some are better than others as far as ROM goes. Use 'em without holding on to gain better balance and to increase the nervous load.

5) Aerobics classes -- wide variety, often a good ROM and include plenty of stretching. Some gyms offer a exercise ball session which is a great tool for trunk flexibility.

6) Use your imagination! Hiking, XC skiing, gardening, etc can all be good sources of aerobic conditioning that won't counter-act your hard earned flexibility.

Also, try experimenting with 1) PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) techniques, 2)static stretching times and intensities (often less intense but more frequent can give great results) and 3) dynamic stretching exercises.

Recent studies have shown that aerobic exercise training can be additive, IOW, you can get a similar benefit from two 20 minute sessions as you can from one 40 minute session. Just FYI -- may help you spend more time stretching per workout and/or help the workouts seem less daunting.

I try to divide my workouts up into sections dependant on my time allotment. I've found that anything over 1.5 hours per workout drives me crazy over the long haul, so I do 20 minutes of stretching and PT exercises (herniations at L4-L5-S1 from deadlifts, but that's another post!), 20-45 minutes of cardio in the form of machines, katas and light bagwork, then I finish off with a few sets of the big push-pull lifts like close grip bench, squat, lat pulls, cleans, push press, etc. Don't forget to try some balistic weight training to improve power -- it works like a freakin' charm.

Anyhoo, hope this helps. I often warn my frineds not to get me started on training modalities becase I can just blab and blab.

Peace!
Travis Roy
www.JRRoy.com
 
First I agree with most of this. Sparring is not aerobic but anaerobic (sp) short bursts of energy for short periods of time. Stretching and flexibility should be specific to the sport. Splits are not necesarily important. Not as much as general flexibility in the hips. I would suggest that stretching is not really the answer with the exception of a cool down. You will stretch as you train and spar if you do it right you will gradually gain the needed range of motion needed while maintaining the intergrity of the joint. Most westerners have this paradyme in their mind that stretching should be a certain way. Flexibility gained in this way will give you a "dynamic flexibility" that allows you to have this range of motion cold. . I highly recommend "Beyond Stretching. Russian Flexibility breakthroughs" It will answer all these questions. People who have unrelated flexibility can often have injuries they otherwise would not occure.
There is also more data to support that aneoribic training has a better cardio effect than aerobic training. May want to check this out with the Exercise Physiology consoritium or related organization.
 
Exercise is almost never strictly aerobic or anaerobic. Sparring for 3 minute rounds with a minute and a half of walking, easy shadow boxing, whatever, between rounds over the scope of 20 minutes or longer is a good deal aerobic. It's all about intensity @ time and they're inversely related. High intensity *has* to be at short time and is mostly anaerobic, low intensity *can* be for long time periods and is mostly aerobic, regardless of the movement(s) being performed.

Training with a heart-rate monitor is the best tool for figuring this all out with regards to the exercise that you want to do (or more accurately, will do) easily. Read up on current research with regards to target heart-rate -- a number of good books exist.

IFAJKD is absolutely correct in the assertion that the best way to gain whatever (strength, flexibility, speed, power, stamina, coordination, explosiveness, awareness, etc) is to increase the time doing what you are trying to improve, in this case: sparring. It's all about specificity. Plus, sparring is a lot more fun than sitting on an elliptical trainer for 30 minutes! It all depends on whether you can get a chance to spar at a level of duration@intensity to help you the quickest/safest. Some schools only go all-out which is not ideal for exercise nor beginner training, IMHO.

Peace!
Travis C Roy
www.jrroy.com
 
Originally posted by Zujitsuka
Matt Furey is a former Shuai Chiao (Chinese wrestling) world champion who was the first non-Chinese to win the international competition. He wrote a book on body weight exercises called COMBAT CONDITIONING. He did not develop these exercises, but he compiled the "wisdom of the ancients" into his book. I own this book and I recommend it, but you can probably get some of the same info for a lot less money or even free by running a search on google.

You can also find some bodyweight routines by a guy called Scrapper here:

http://www.webfects.com/hea/routine.htm

A lot of the people on the Underground Forums swear by them, and those guys are usually serious MMA/NHB types.

HTH
 
That is a fantastic book. Matts methods really demonstrate where conditioning can go with the body as the tool
 
Kumasan, thanks for that bodyweight exercise link! Those routines look very nice. I think I'm going to try getting into routine #1.

Cthulhu
 
I won't answer each point, but I will say I read every post in detail. All of you had awesome, helpful advice.
In particular I think you were right that I was stretching too hard- I went back to only stretching once a day, and not too intensely, and AFTER my workout as well as before- and I have regained 8-% of my original flexibilty.
Also, you were right about needing the flexibility to come thourgh the KICKS and the STRIKES. I was operating under the misconception that just being flexible was enough to get good kicks. Now I have learned it the development of the muscle throughout the full range of the strike/kick that must be developed, as well as eye/foot/hand coordination and balance...
LOL
I have so much to learn and practice. It is a good feeling, at the age of 25, felling like I will never have time to be bored again for the rest of my life, with so much to learn.

I heart you all... Cathy
 
Even though I have posted this in another area of this forum I will post it again for everyone in this thread.

Take a hot bath(the heat helps the muscles stretch easier), add some salt to the water, the crystal hold the heat longer. Then lay on your back with your butt to the wall and your legs up the wall. Open your legs as far as they will go comfortably, and let gravity do the work for you. 30 minutes a day with a good book doing this and your flexibility will improve dramatically.
 
Increasing flexibility is a SLOW process. As long as you remain diligent you will get there (albeit in tiny increments).

When people ask me how I developed the ability to do my splits, I usually tell them it involved a freshly waxed linoleum floor, a clean pair of socks, and a bottle of tequila. (joke):D :D :D
 

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