Stretching for Tai Chi Chuan and Wu Shu

The Importance of Stretching

It is essential to stretch before any Tai Chi or Wushu workout in order to prevent injury and prepare you for the best possible practice. Flexibility is helpful to your performance because it allows you to concentrate on breathing, position, pace, etc. rather than the limits placed on your motion due to poorly stretched muscles. Also, remember that general flexibility improves best with daily stretching exercises such as those outlined below. Stretching too hard will make your muscles sore and tight, so be patient and allow your flexibility to develop over time.

Basic Floor Stretching Excersises

To begin, sit on the floor with legs straight in front. Then open the legs as wide as is comfortable. Hold each of the positions described below steadily (no bouncing) for 10 counts.

  1. Lean over the right leg, keeping the back straight, chest facing towards the floor. Hold onto the right foot if possible.

    Repeat, leaning over the left leg.

  2. Next, do a side stretch: Lean to the side over the right leg, so your right side is facing the floor. The left arm should reach over the head toward the right foot. The right arm can lay against the floor, pointing to the left.

    Repeat over the left leg.

  3. Lean forward, keeping the back straight. You may reach the arms forward or reach them sideways to hold onto the feet if possible.

  4. Bring the legs together in front. Lean forward over the legs, keeping the back straight. Pull the balls of the feet back, if possible.

  5. Pull the legs in for a butterfly stretch. The feet are in the center, bottoms together, and the knees to the sides. Hold the feet together with the hands and push down on the knees with the elbows. Lean forward, keeping the back straight.

  6. Next, leave the left leg laying on the floor as in the butterfly stretch, and cross the right leg over it so that the right foot is on the floor and the right knee is pointing up. Turn the torso to the right and stretch by pulling the right leg close to your body.

    Repeat on the opposite side.

  7. Next do a runners stretch, with the left leg bent behind and the right leg straight in front. Lean over the front leg with the back straight.

    Repeat with the left leg in front.

  8. For more advanced students: from the runner's stretch, slide into the splits by straightening the back leg. Do for both sides.

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