Stretching Menu

Since posting the Stretching Challenge, I’ve gotten some good feedback and comments. I really appreciate everyone sharing their own experiences here.

On the challenge post, I embedded a video of me performing and explaining the essential components of my current stretching routine. As I wrote then, all of these movements (and more) are included in Paul Zaichik’s Elastic Steel course, which I am using to regain my flexibility.

Have you been stretching?

The video turned out to be about 25 minutes long. Since it’s not convenient to watch every time you want to stretch, I thought I ‘d post a list of the movements here. You can print this out and slip it in your gym bag or tape it to your TV. Whatever works.

Remember, you don’t have to do exactly what I do on the video. As I mention towards the end, there are five main components you need to shoot for:

  • Joint movement
  • Light stretches
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Deep stretching

However you choose to get those in is up to you. Use whatever specific stretches and movement you like or feel best address your own weaknesses. The video is simply an example of the kinds of things I personally plug into the template.

That said, here’s the list of movements I’m doing on the video:

  • Joint Movements
    • neck
    • shoulders, elbows, wrists
    • spine – thoracic and lumbar
    • hips, knees, ankles
  • Shake Out
  • Dynamic Stretches
    • leg swings to front, side, and back
  • Light Stretches
    • lying knee-to-chest
    • wind removing pose
    • spinal rocks to plough pose
    • seated ankle-over-knee
    • 1/2 spinal twist / piriformis stretch
    • adductor stretch to pigeon pose
    • foot dorsiflexor stretch
    • calf stretch on wall and floor
    • abdominal walk-outs
    • upward dog pose
    • downward dog pose
    • child pose to twisted child pose
    • shoulder stretches
    • wrist stretches
    • 1/4 front split / hip flexor lunge
    • inner thigh stretch
    • neck stretches
  • Strength Exercises
    • For the dojo
      • enmei no hokei
      • super-wide kamae and unsoku
    • For home
      • pistol / single-leg squat
      • alternating split (ejidachi) hops
  • Kick Exercises
    • static leg raise-and-hold to front, side, and back
    • extended leg circles in kicking positions
  • Thigh Strengthening
    • adductor lift
    • adductor lift with resistance band
    • adductor stretch with resistance band
    • internal rotation lift
    • external rotation lift
    • external rotation with resistance band
  • Deep Stretches
    • tucked single-leg hamstring stretch
    • hip flexor bounce
    • hip flexor / thigh stretch
    • deeper inner thigh stretch
    • 1/2 side split
    • straddle stretch to side split

Remember, there’s a lot more to the Elastic Steel course than this. That doesn’t mean you can’t make progress on a shorter program, but I do encourage setting aside at least twenty minutes per session. Really try to stretch at least three times each week.

There’s not really much more to add – I did my best to explain the important points on the video. If you have any questions of suggestions, please post them in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Stretching Menu”

  1. Hi Andy,

    I’m glad I got the opportunity to follow you back to your blog. I’d never heard of Taido before and it sounds fascinating. What a resource! I’ve added you to my RSS feed and look forward to reading more of your posts. You’ve inspired me to become more flexible. Might even have to take you up on your stretching challenge…

    1. Thanks Krista. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog as well.

      Though Taido and Gojo have very little in common on the surface, they share the common fundamentals that make all martial arts work. More than that, Taido’s creator was also a master of Okinawan Koryu, so our techniques do have a lot of that influence (though it’s sometimes very subtle).

  2. Hi Andy!

    Thanks for the list, I will actually take you up on your challenge, mostly because I really need it: participated in the Swedish championships two days ago and my body feels stiffer than ever! This might be due to the combination of getting cold between matches, lousy stretching afterwards, a sore thigh and a long ride home, but on the other hand that’s just whining… Actually, one of the comments afterwards from the judges on my hokei was that my ebi geri was a bit low, so I really need to loosen up.

    Noticed (from the video) that either you have been following your own program for a while, or you’re just very self critical about your own flexibility (i.e. I should really be more self critical!). Anyway, look forward to get a bit more flexible than today! Hopefully, this will help me a lot in my practice and teaching.


    1. Thanks Hannes! And congrats on your great work in the championships – I’m hoping to see some video soon.

      Actually, I had only been stretching consistently for a couple of days when I did the video. I’ve improved since then, and I plan to post a follow-up with my results so far before long. I think that I’m very flexible in certain movements that I do often and remember to practice, but I’ve got a few areas (like my hamstrings) that I have a hard time keeping limber (because of injuries and laziness).

      If you try adding a routine like this, you should really let us all know how it goes after a few weeks. Maybe you can help convince some people to give it a shot.

      (As a side note regarding ebigeri, you may also look into strengthening your lower back. Also, make sure to look at the floor because looking at the kick will cause your back to round and your kick to drop.)

      Cheers, indeed!

      1. Thanks for the tip about the lower back, I’ll try that! I really see no point in looking at the leg in ebi geri though, unless you want to stop the kick (convenient in jissen, for example ;) ), but good point.

        Of course we all have better and worse parts of the body, for me it’s the upper body (especially my back and shoulders) that need more attention, so I’ll add some exercises for that. I’ll try my best to follow the principles you mention above.

        I’ll keep you posted on my progress (or lack of it…), and I’ll try to find time to upload some clips from the championships in the near future.

        1. Yeah, I meant don’t look at the kick. I didn’t know if you were, but I see a lot of people making that mistake lately, so I wanted to mention it just in case.

          Excellent. If you come up with any good shoulder stretches, let me know.

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