Stretching for MMA, Part I-Calf Stretch
This is the first of several installments on stretching for MMA, specifically to improve your kicking ability. If you stretch well enough that head kicks are easy and fast you will also help with many other techniques (i.e. Rubber guard, etc.). The major areas where you have to improve flexibility are calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, adductors, abductors, hips and low back. I will start with calves because relaxing the tissue in your calf will make it easier to stretch your hamstring.
For this stretch, sit on the floor with your legs straight. It is better to sit during a stretch instead of stand because when you sit you are not weight bearing and you will be able to stretch and relax your muscles more easily.
Move your non-stretching leg so that your ankle rests above your knee on the stretching leg. This holds your stretching leg in place and keeps it from moving during the stretch.
Next, lean your upper body forward. Your tendency will be to back out of the leaned position during the stretch, so pay attention and remain leaned forward. This happens because the human body naturally tries to make things easier. Leaning forward helps you to isolate your calf and get more out of this stretch.
Tibialis Anterior is the muscle located in your shin area on the front of your lower leg. Breathe out and use this muscle to activate into the stretch, moving your toes toward your knee (decrease the angle of your foot in relation to your leg). Hold the stretch for about 1 to 2 seconds and release. Move your foot far enough out of the stretch (by pointing your toes) so that you can rest in between stretches.
This is also an effective way to use your calf to stretch your Tibialis Anterior.
Do 3 to 10 repetitions per set and stretch both sides equally. Repeat sets as needed.
This stretch and a lot more will be covered in my book, Focusing Martial Arts Power, 2nd edition, which I am currently finishing. Thanks and look for Part II, Glute Stretch.