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The Science Of Stretching: 7 Tips To Maximize Your Flexibility

There's a belief in the West that the only way to flexibility is through static stretching but latest research shows that the way Shaolin Monks warm up and stretch is the way to get maximum performance from your workout.

"Dynamic stretching may be the most important element of a warm up... it involves moving and waking the tissues that will be called upon during the subsequent exercise." The First Twenty Minutes.

At the Shaolin Temple we do two types of stretching: static and dynamic. The Shaolin dynamic stretching we do are the Five Fundamental Kicks, and the Five Fundamental Stances. These movements open the hips and warm up the leg muscles. We've stretched and warmed up our muscles this way for thousands of years.

Want to gain the flexibility of a Shaolin Monk? Follow these simple steps below.

8 Steps To Maximize Your Flexibility

1. Stretch am and pm

My early morning sessions at the Shaolin Temple always began with a mountain run then we would take time to stretch our muscles before beginning our kung fu training session. Stretching in the morning is harder than in the evening but it's one of the best ways to increase flexibility.

2.  Always stretch after your workout 

Your joints and muscles are warm, which means you can go further with your stretch. It also helps to decrease the build up of lactic acid in your muscles. Not stretching after a workout leads to stiff muscles.

3. Do the Five Fundamental Shaolin Kicks

These kicks increase flexibility to not only the legs but crucially the hips. Start off in a relaxed and loose way, kicking from the hip rather than from the leg. Stretch in between the kicks to loosen the leg and kick again. When you move into the splits you'll be surprised how much further you can go.

 4. Do The Five Fundamental Shaolin Stances

These stances open the hips, stretch out the legs including the calf muscles, and make the whole body move as one. They are an excellent way to increase strength in the muscles while stretching them at the same time.

5. Find creative ways to include stretching in your day-to-day life

If you like to watch TV then find a way to stretch while you watch TV. On the escalator, place your left heel a little off the step and stretch out your calf muscle.

6. Alternate your stretching

Our bodies quickly adapt so alternate your stretching and consistently challenge your body.

7.  Focus on Optimal Flexibility for you

We all need to have a certain amount of flexibility but remember we are all different. It's crucial that you never push yourself too hard and you work with your own body. If you want to get your head on your knees, don't strain to get there or bend your legs in the process. Remember there never should be any pain when you stretch only patience. Even if you can't so the splits. They're a good stretch to do on a daily basis as they open the hips and legs. 

8. Dedicate Your Workouts to Maximise Flexibility

My online teaching program is 20-days  to ultimate flexibility. Even I got more flexible from teaching this. Click HERE for details. 



  • Norman Hawkins

    I have knee issues, my cartilage is worn away so i am bone on bone and my right knee has become distorted. I do Bikram, Hot, yoga twice a week but after 7 years i still do not have the flexibility i would like and some of the postures, due to my knees are very difficult to achieve. Would these Dynamic exercises be any better than the yoga exercises that i currently do. i am almost 79

  • Riccardo

    very useful to hear about streching foundamental…activities many confusion about that sometime when I spoke with coachs

  • Simon Penney

    I’ve been stretching my whole life (38 yrs old) and I assume you mean you’re at that last point a few inches away from full splits.
    If so then don’t get to caught up on wanting to get past that point. That’s the issue why you’re not achieving it. Remember when we stretch, we are now stretching the muscles, we are re-formatting the brain. Your muscles can already do the splits. It’s your mind that stops you to protect you.
    You have to mentally let go and not get caught up on making more progress. Even accept and tell your mind that you are in the splits already and you’ve achieved your goals.
    It may sound strange but then your mind will relax more and become more confident in your current position then you’ll make more progress if that makes sense. You’re thinking too much about the end goal and not focusing on the present movememt. Just concentrate on your breath and eventually you will become even more flexible. Hope this helps.

  • Walesi

    Ive been aiming ro do the splits for a while now and cant seem to push my adductors past that last little bit…..any special tips on gow to break through?
    Hunble regards,
    Walesi Lui

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