Bruce Lee: The Tao of Stretching
“One of the most important components of any martial artist’s training regimen is flexibility. Bruce Lee was forever coming up with new methods that helped to make him more limber, and he always made sure he was thoroughly warmed up before commencing his marital arts training. Lee’s friend and student Herb Jackson recalls that the only “routine” he ever saw Bruce Lee steadily engage in was his stretching program”
Why you should stretch
“Here are the five most important reasons why a sound flexibility program should form a part of your exercise routine:
1. Stretching improves health and fitness. When combined with proper strength-training methods and aerobic cardiovascular workouts such as running, stretching provides the final one-third of the tri-umvirate necessary for total fitness.
2. Stretching reduces the risk of injuries. Most everyday injuries and athletic injuries are caused by trauma(e.g., a fall, a car accident, or impact with another individual) or by overextending a joint, muscle or connective tissue, which results in muscle pulls, sprains and strains. Martial artists who follow regular and progressive stretching programs suffer at least 50% fewer overextension injuries than those who don’t.
3. Stretching is a good warm-up/cool-down for other types of training sessions. In addition, a pre-martial art-session stretching program improves neuromuscular coordination. And when performed immediately after your workout, stretching will prevent soreness and promote faster physiological recovery.
4. Stretching improves athletic performance. A more flexible martial artist is a better martial artist, and a more flexible athlete is a better athlete. Could you, for example, conceive of a gymnast with tight muscles? Any athlete who’s more flexible than another automatically has both physiological and psychological edge.
5. When done correctly, stretching is enjoyable. Have you ever awakened in the morning and, still in bed, slowly stretched your entire body? It felt great, didn’t it? In fact just such a program “The Wake-Up Routine” is based on a series of static holds (i.e., tensing of a muscle group in its fully stretched or full contracted position) Can be performed before you get out of bed in the morning! It’s a great way to prepare your body to face the day ahead.”
The “Wake-Up” Routine
“Every day before getting out of bed do:
1. Full-body stretch—5 times, maintaining stretch 3 seconds, rest 2 seconds.
2. Arch back—5 times.
3. Leg tensing—12 times, 3 seconds tensing, 2 seconds rest.
4. Abdominal tensing—10 times, 3 seconds tensing, 2 seconds rest.
5. Sit-up, touch toes—5 times.
6. Bent-leg raises—5 times.”
From Bruce Lee’s book “Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body”
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