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Stretching: Why should you stretch?


Is it really necessary to stretch?

You may be wondering why all karate teachers, and sports in general, have you Stretching ?

This is what we will see in this series of articles on stretching.

1- How do muscles work?

Operation-Fiber-MuscleSo, to fully understand the usefulness of muscular stretching, it is necessary to take a little interest in the contraction of the muscles.

It is essential to know that the muscles are composed, of course, of inter-muscular septa and envelopes (aponeuroses) but especially muscle fibers (myofibrils) of actin and myosin.

What will interest us here are precisely these filaments of actin and myosin.

When there is a muscular contraction, it is actually these filaments of actin and myosin which slide on one another (as I show on the picture!) and which thus cause the shortening of the muscle and therefore the movement.

The problem is that these filaments have an unfortunate tendency to not properly resume their initial position when released. They hang between them, a bit like two Velcro strips.

By dint of repeating certain movements, the muscles contract and shorten more and more ...

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2- Tension in the tendons!

The muscles are attached to the bones on each side of the joints by the tendons. By remaining shortened, the muscles and pull permanently on the tendons, even at rest which can cause pain, and / or imbalances. The body will compensate for these imbalances and cause other pain, sometimes very far away ...

Let's take the example of the pelvic girdle: If we lack flexibility, very powerful muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, etc., will cause, even at rest, tensions very strong on the pelvis, which can very quickly block you and cause back pain. In short, not only are you in pain, but in addition you will be a little wobbly in your techniques 🙂

3- Loss of muscle strength!

You have to know that a muscle releases a lot more energy when he works on his maximum amplitude.

As we have just seen, the muscle tends to shorten and not to return to its starting position.

As you train, your muscles will shorten and no longer work on their maximum and natural amplitude. they will therefore be much less effective, which is contrary to the very purpose of your training -> You will not progress even if you continue to train a lot ....

If you do nothing to improve your flexibility, you will enter into a fairly classic vicious circle. The more you train, the more tension you feel, and the loss of muscle strength, speed ... that you try to compensate for by training yourself even more ...

To get out of this vicious circle, it is necessary to give back to the muscles their flexibility and their amplitude of origin

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4- What are stretching for?

Without going into technical details, what is important to remember is that:

stretching will be used to bring the muscles back to their original positions ...

As we have just seen, it is important to put the muscles back to their original position. This is exactly what stretching will allow us to do. The muscles thus elongated will cause much less effort at rest on their point of insertion (point of attachment of the muscles on the bones via the tendons) which will free your movements and therefore your flexibility.

And in addition you will gain muscle power!

Your muscles will be more relaxed but your tendons will also relax since there will be more permanent traction on them.

In the end the stretching will allow you to :

  1. Gain in range of motion (more flexibility, mobility ...)
  2. Gain muscle power (more strength, speed ...)
  3. Reduce tensions in the tendons and muscles (less aches, joint pain ...)

You should not neglect the stretching that must be an integral part of your training. You must do this before training, after training and in very specific training sessions.

But be careful, depending on when the stretch is placed, the goal is not going to be the same:

  • Before trainingwe are just going to try to eliminate the tensions of the day, and to facilitate nerve and blood circulations in order to prepare the body for the effort during the warm-up.
  • Post workout, the goal is also to facilitate the circulation of blood flow to facilitate recovery, but also and especially to unblock the muscle fibers so that they resume their initial positions to avoid tension.
  • In specific sessionswe will try to increase the length of the muscles to gain amplitude and therefore flexibility for more effective, more precise, more powerful and faster techniques.

So, thank you for reading me so far. I hope you have better understood the usefulness of stretching and the value of including it in your training.

I prepared you a podcast with all the detailed tips! to listen and listen again:

In the next articles we will see ....

>>> How to do effective and useful stretching.

In the meantime, give me your first impressions in a comment below!

See you soon,

GIFT ! Receive for free my new book:

"The Practical Guide Stretch Reussis"

Just tell me where I have to send it to you

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  1. hello Bruno

    I just listen to the podcast on stretching is to continue because it allows you to learn as the videos the why of how and the martial arts in my opinion requires a lot of thought on the subject and on specific points.
    thank you for your help and your very apreciated advice. michel

  2. Hello Master Bruno, thank you very much for the blog, the videos in general and this article specifically it is very interesting you need to understand how the muscles react during a stretch and how important the stretch is .. I practice karate for a good time and I feel flexible in a lot of movement but still I can not do my splits
    I want to ask you a question about this I came across an information on the internet that there are people who can not do the splits because their capacity is limited! is that true?

    Thanks again good day a +

    • Hi Raja,

      Yes, not everyone is able to go the distance. The goal of stretching is not anyway to make the big difference (personally I have never arrived) but to improve its mobility and flexibility.
      In karate, the big gap is useless, good flexibility is more than enough.

  3. Thank you Bruno for this super clear article on stretching! So clear and convincing that it makes me want to do it! It seems unavoidable. I admit that before that, I tend to be reluctant after training (since it happens to train at home).
    waoualà, well thank you again! (as usual !)

  4. Hello Mr Bruno B
    I read your article on stretching and its benefits, so I have a quick question to ask you: what is allowed to do, from the point of view of influence on health, cold stretching and if so, how?
    Stretches I guess it is necessary to go slowly at first to avoid any inconvenience, you see I'm a little cautious but I think the human body can be likened to a machine, go from a low regime to a cruise regime and the most important in all this is the regularity with the will to go further in these stretches.
    Good reception

  5. Hello Bruno sensei karate of the net. Personally, stretching is part of my lifestyle. Like my dog ​​stretching and the cat doing its toilet,
    I get up I stretch and refresh my head. And at the end of the day, for relaxation, before going to bed (or reading and falling asleep). lol

    It is true that on a muscular level, I do not see any progression. Neither of amplitude of elsewhere. Just some good habits. Maybe my program is not adapting well anymore? Or work badly?

    For that I added your specific movements, for the hip I would see well in a while. I leave myself two, three months (this is already one).

    Good day to you too.

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