Building Flexibility for MMA & Muay Thai
Disclaimer – Exercise at your own risk
- Warm up – get a sweat on before stretching in the mornings
- Use PNF & Static stretching to build a foundation of flexibility
- Use ballistic stretching for high kick flexibility
- If you work from home, use micro-stretching by sitting in different positions that promote flexibilty. e.g. lie on your stomach when using a laptop to stretch your hips flexors
- Avoid sitting down whenever possible
- Reduce inflammation with a clean diet
- Use trigger point therapy on knots in hips
Flexibility Routine for MMA
Warm Up – go for a jog or have a bath
Bodyweight Exercises for Mobility
Sumo Squats – 20 reps
Bulgarian Split Squats – 10 reps on each leg
Russian Single Leg Deadlifts – 10 reps on each leg
Hip Flexor Stretch – hold for 30 seconds on each leg x 3
Standing Groin Stretch – hold for 30 seconds x 3 (see stretch here)
Wide legged forward bend – (advanced – don’t injure your back!) – hold for 30 seconds x 3 (see stretch here)
don’t attempt ballistic stretches unless you are warm! Ballistic stretches have a high risk of injury. Start of with a small range of movement, then increase gradually
Forward & back leg swings – 15 each leg
Side to side leg swings – 15 each leg
High roundhouse kicks – 10 kicks each leg x 2
High Teep/Front Kick – 10 kicks each leg x 2
I went to yoga classes and stretch for years, but honestly didn’t get that far, except for great hamstring flexibility. I got extremely flexible by getting really hot whilst stretching – e.g. after a workout, or by wearing a sauna suit and going for a run – or by literally doing yoga in the bath.
Bath Yoga is the future. If you take full flush Niacin 10 mins before you will get REALLY hot – start with a tiny amount and build up.
Things to note:
– Mobility and dynamic flexibility are different and are achieved differently to static flexibility
– Mobility work is a good idea before training and competing, and static stretching is best done post-workout/training
– Unless you are doing gentle mobility exercises, I’d always recommend being warm before stretching. Even if that means just having a hot shower before stretching in the morning (a bath would be ideal), or doing a few laps of jogging before doing pre-training dynamic stretching
– It is much easier to kick high if you lean backwards (although this can slow the kick down and put you off balance slightly)
– It is easier to kick high with a roundhouse style kick, if your standing foot is rotated and toes point away from opponent
Exercises for Hip Flexibility:
– Sumo squats – keep your head up, try and bend with legs only. You can hold a weight to stretch further but be careful and make sure you are warmed up
– Dynamic side-to-side groin stretch
– Over the gate hip mobility and back-over the gate
– Leg swings – sideways – back and forth, continually for 10 reps:
and forwards & backwards
– Single leg, stiff leg deadlift (try holding on to something to begin with, and get someone to check your posture – shoulders back, head up, back leg straight, body inline and not rotated laterally)
Hold for 5 seconds, then return to standing position. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Be careful not to lose balance and damage your standing knee
– Lateral, single leg, stiff leg deadlift (I kind of made this one up, so be careful)
From standing, lift one leg out to the side until it is parallel with the floor.
Move back to standing straight away.
Repeat 5 times, then change standing leg, repeat another 5 times
There are also some good exercises here too:
Use a lacrosse ball and a foam roller before stretching, ideally for 10 minutes before stretching and 10 minutes everyday in addition to this. When you find a knot/trigger point, hold the foam roller in place and don’t move for 1 minute.
Other random factors can hinder flexibility…well, factors that people don’t consider anyway. Anxiety and cortisol/stress levels make a huge difference, which is why it’s a good idea to remain calm and not hyped-up before a fight. Caffeine can reduce mobility and magnesium deficiencies can too.