Should I stretch after judo?
April 11, 2007 1:56 PM   Subscribe

There is no stretching at my judo dojo. Shouldn't there be any, especially at the end of an intense session?

After each tri-weekly 1.5-hour session, we salute the instructor and then the dojo is closed off and we all head immediately to the changing-room. Nobody stretches. The day after, I feel rigid and lacking flexibility.

Is it important to stretch after judo?

Should I consider finding a dojo that leaves time for some stretching at the end of each session?
posted by amusem to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
I did martial arts extensively for several years... my primary instructor didn't have an official cool-down period. The different instructor I had from time to time did.

Can you stretch out yourself anywhere in the dojo? Even a few stretches in the changing room? Failing that, can you do it when you get home?
posted by olinerd at 2:13 PM on April 11, 2007

Yes - At the moment, I try to stretch a little in the changing room and then some more at home (there is a 45 minute transit before getting home...).
posted by amusem at 2:19 PM on April 11, 2007

I think the answer to "should I stretch" is YES, since you feel stiff. How and when is an entire field of worms with extra worms and a damn big can. I find that I feel best when I stretch as part of my warm-up (start with small stretches, working up, while moving around), and while warm/during the middle of exercise...and then stretch gently (in the shower is best) either when I get home or the next morning... I also will say that I find stretching boring, and tend to over-estimate the time I've spent when not part of a class (man, I've been stretching for HOURS, how come the clock only says ten minutes?).

(Do you really not stretch at all in class, or just not at the end?)
posted by anaelith at 2:52 PM on April 11, 2007

There is no stretching during class and there isn't any at the end. (At the beginning of the class, there is a warmup. It helps to get into it. It doesn't involve any stretching though.)
posted by amusem at 3:01 PM on April 11, 2007

There should be stretching—at least, there was when I used to take judo. We had an extensive period of stretching at the beginning of each class. Stretching at the end wasn't formalized, but it was encouraged.

My sensei was one of the first women to study at the Kodokan, as well as a judo coach for the U.S. Olympic team. It's pretty safe to say she knows her stuff.
posted by limeonaire at 3:50 PM on April 11, 2007

Go to your instructor. Say, I feel stiff the day after classes. Would it help if I stretched immediately after class? Presumably this would lead to suggestions or possibly the lights being left on for you for a few minutes of stretching. If it doesn't, you may want to find a different instructor.
posted by willnot at 4:20 PM on April 11, 2007

At the beginning of the class, there is a warmup. It helps to get into it. It doesn't involve any stretching though.

That's odd. In my experience (includes a little bit, but not primarily, judo), always stretching before, during warmup. Not really anything after a session. Not so relevant for judo, but if you're going to be doing any kicking, you definitely want to stretch before.
posted by juv3nal at 4:26 PM on April 11, 2007

Why not show up a few minutes early and stretch then?
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 4:34 PM on April 11, 2007

There was recently a news item about a comprehensive study that found that stretching before exercise does absolutely nothing to reduce injuries. Doing a web search, I see that there's a number of studies saying basically the same thing. As this strongly contradicts conventional wisdom, I'd suggest you research this yourself carefully and take anything anyone says, either way, with a grain of salt.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:45 PM on April 11, 2007

There was recently a news item about a comprehensive study that found that stretching before exercise does absolutely nothing to reduce injuries.

Maybe that's true, but stretching prior to exercise (especially martial-arts types) does increase your potential range of motion, flexibility, and those can both lead to better technique.

I trained in Moo Duk Kwan TKD for years, similar to Tang Soo Do, both of which are Korean forms that blend a number of both Chinese and Japanese styles, including Judo. That is to say, I did a lot of Judo.

In my Do Jong, we never started a session without first a warm-up and then stretching. We never ended a session without a stretching session, and sometimes these sessions were purposefully extended.

Frankly I couldn't imagine training any other way, that was the most flexible and fit I've ever felt in my life.

Get a new dojo.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:32 PM on April 11, 2007

Not stretching at all seems odd to me, though I think stretching beforehand would be more important. Willnot has the right idea.

Data point: I train in Aikido, which should be somewhat similar in terms of joint stresses. We always stretch before class, sometimes have a mid-class stretch when stressing the knees (e.g., suwari-waza, with both partners kneeling), and then close class with a casual thank partners/sweep mats/cooldown period. There isn't a formal cooldown stretch, but we have a chance if we need it.
posted by trouserbat at 5:52 PM on April 11, 2007

I second allkindsoftime, Get a new dojo. Nay, I stress.

I play ice hockey goaltending. This position begs one to react quickly and be flexible. If one doesn't stretch before a game, there is no way your muscles are ready for you to drop to your knees in a split second in a butterfly position, a reactionary move. One second you're standing in a deep crouch, legs apart, the next ]in this vid clip, the goalie first stretches. 1:05 into it, a shot from behind, goalie touches his left toe, then right, then drops into a butterfly[ also here—UToob.
To get the pad inside edge flush on the ice, as shown on the clip, you also have to open your hips. Not only are your knees bent, but your hips open up.
Karate takes the same amount of flexibility and stamina. There is no way you are not going to hurt yourself doing this with out a proper warm up. The kid in the clip is a goalie's bulletin board member's son, who is 8 years old. I'm 52. Now tell me not to stretch and be competitive and still be playing 4 times a week.

Burt Konzak, ]scroll to bottom:Online: Toronto Academy of Karate[ is my Mother's Sensei. He's written books on the subject, Girl power: Self-defense for teens. He would be apoplectic if he heard you didn't warm up and cool down after a session. My mother is in her mid 70's with a brown belt, would she be able to do this today if she didn't warm up¿ In my Mother's own words regarding warm up stretches and cool downs, "It's very important". Listen to Mom./

I hope you find an alternate dojo, that cares about the art of self defense and Your health.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2007

There was recently a news item about a comprehensive study that found that stretching before exercise does absolutely nothing to reduce injuries.

I saw a study to that effect six years ago, but I was always under the impression that stretching was intended to reduce stiffness, and that any potential injury reduction was gravy.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:34 PM on April 11, 2007

I will pass on the info I have received from my brother (Physical Therapist, ATC) and sister-in-law (same but also [practically] a PhD)... There is no evidence (many studies, if you want links, I'll have to contact bro) that stretching before results in reduced injury. That is very different than saying, "Stretching is good for you". I believe that stretching before any sport is "good for you", but only base that on personal experience, common sense, and the opinions of professional (family, and others). However, stretching after has been shown to increase flexibility & reduce stiffness (again, if you need links...).

Also, I practice aikido and my dojo has no set warm up or cool down routine/period. But if people want to do so, they are more than welcome (i.e. no rushing people off the mat at the end of class). So I say, stay with your dojo, but ask the sensei about implementing a cool down routine. Or at least letting people stay a few minutes after class.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:05 AM on April 12, 2007

Your dojo's fine.

Stretch at night, or after the workout. More than minor stretching is wearing you out for the workout.

Stretching puts micro-tears in your muscles, much like weight lifting. A big heavy stretch session before getting to business is only tiring out your muscles. Just do enough to get the heart rate up and the blood pumping and be done with it. Sometimes it's easiest to ease into your workout and get more aggressive as you warm up.

Some schools do it just this way 'cause if you have to defend yourself, it's not like you'll have a chance to stretch.

But at night, before bed, where sleep can heal, take the time and do some good stretching. Some people like to do so after a hot bath, but that always took too long to suit me. In time with regular stretching you'll find your overall flexibility will improve, even when cold.
posted by Elvis at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2007

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