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The importance of proper warm-up routines at the beginning of Martial Arts training sessions cannot be overstressed. These help to avoid injuries which may otherwise occur in more demanding sections of sessions undertaken without such preparation. Warm ups like the one that follows help keep your training injury free!
Warm-ups are vital before the calisthenic (stretching and exercising body parts) section of Martial Arts lessons or workouts. It helps considerably if individuals know a complete balanced warm-up routine from start to finish to expedite their own training programmes (the one used in class for example). Regularly performing warm ups is good discipline and part of establishing basic priorities as they help to prepare mentally for what is to come and sharpen the perceptions and reactions.
A good warm-up exercises all the body’s major moveable joints sequentially from top to bottom, in the first instance. This is frequently supplemented by further exercises working groups of joints together (e.g. shoulders and hips, arms and legs).
Each joint is surrounded by protective lubricant synovial fluid. ‘Warm-up’ exercises (hence their name) help raise body temperature 2-3 degrees Centigrade thus reducing this fluid’s viscosity and allowing the joints to function more smoothly and freely–an essential pre-requisite before more strenuous demands are made upon them by stretching.
As a consequence, the major muscle groups involved also are warmed and stretched, the heart rate is increased gradually and the whole body is working more efficiently. One exercise per major joint is given below, on a top to bottom basis, to illustrate these principles.
Look 180 degrees downwards at your feet, then 90 degrees to your right, 180 degrees straight above you and finally, 90 degrees to your left before arriving back at your start. Circle your head 4 times clockwise thus and then repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.
Making big dramatic movements circle both shoulders simultaneously backwards 4 times then repeat the exercise in a forward direction.
With both hands on the small of your back bend backwards as far as is comfortable and hold this for 15-20 seconds. Next bend forwards similarly with arms and fingers outstretched and try to touch your toes or the floor before you. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds (don’t worry if you can’t touch either, holding this position extends your reach progressively, over time this exercise will get you there).
Place your hands on your hips, keep your feet together, your legs straight and circle them 16 times in one direction before repeating the exercise the other way around. Start with small circles each time and then make these gradually bigger.
Open your stance, squat down and grab your kneecaps with your hands. Rotate both kneecaps outwards 20 times then repeat with 20 inwards rotations.
Ankles and Wrists
Clasp both hands together with fingers interlocked, raise your right heel and, pivoting on the ball of the foot, circle your foot 20 times clockwise whilst moving your wrist right and left alternately. Repeat this exercise using the left foot.
Some of the better known Qigong routines such as the Yi Yin Jing and Ba Duan Jin can also be used for the same purpose instead of, alongside of or interspersed with those like the above. This, more orthodox, example, however, is based upon the writer’s recent Wu Shu training experiences in the People’s Republic of China.
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