If your martial art style involves rolling, you definitely want to stretch out your back.
The cat / cow is a basic back stretch, in which you have your knees and hands on the floor. You want to place your hands in front of you. You want to have a distance between your hands. You want to pull in your navel as you roll up your back (cat) and hold for a few seconds. Then you roll your back down and in and extend your butt, stretching your glutes and back (cow) and hold for a few more seconds. You can repeat this as many times as you like until you feel your back muscles loosened.
In one of the styles I know – Emperor’s Long Fist – there is a stretch called Monkey’s Arms, in which you bend at your waist, lean over, and circle your arms in slow motion. In a relaxed state, you are loosening your arms by circling them, and you are also stretching your back and loosening your back muscles. The wider the circle in the arms, the looser they get. You are also feeling your blood circulate through you because your head is upside down.
Another way to stretch your back is to kneel down with your legs behind you, and then lean backward, placing your back on the floor. Your legs will be along the sides of your hips. This stretches not only the back but also muscles in your legs and hips, which is necessary for a strong foundation. Not many people can do this stretch. You have to be very limber in order to do this. But for those who can do this stretch, you know what I am talking about when I say splits come easy after doing this.
You should never forget to do back stretches before your training. In fact back stretches should be part of your training, especially prior to rolling.
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