Due to the nature of information transfer of the martial arts, many schools teach stretching methods that are not in line with modern sports medicine theory. Instructors follow the methods taught by their instructors that were taught to them by their instructors before them and so on. That’s why it’s very common to see martial arts instructors leading warm-ups that include long periods of static stretching, rather than following the advice of modern medical authorities that suggest that dynamic stretching is a better way to prepare muscles for the rigors of exercise.
Modern research is finding that static stretching not only provides no real benefits in terms of injury prevention, it can even hinder students’ movements for up to 10 minutes after the stretching period. Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, stretches the muscles using gentle (not explosive) movements. Some research suggests that it is a superior method of stretching for injury prevention. An article was recently published in the New York Times on this topic.
In my Vancouver martial arts school, we only use static stretching at the end of class as a cool down and to help students improve their overall flexibility. For warm-ups, we choose dynamic stretches that prepare students for the upcoming class. When relevant, I like to use methods that closely simulate the techniques to be covered in class.
I always try to keep up with modern sports medicine and use up-to-date methods for my class’s physical regimen. I consult with my students who are doctors and try to read up on medical research reports as they are released. Many of my students use my Jiu-jitsu classes as their sole method of staying in shape, so I have responsibility to ensure that they are getting proper fitness training.