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How to Side Stretch Kick

The side stretch kick develops the flexibility and strength for side kicks and back kicks. Like the front stretch kick, the side stretch kick actually serves multiple purposes. It stretches the groin and hips, it strengthens the abdominals, hips outer thighs, and it helps develop the balance to lift the leg sideways quickly without falling.

If you are going to be doing side kicks or back kicks in a kicking session you should first perform side stretch kicks kicks after you have warmed up and stretched. Don’t throw side kicks or back kicks until you do a set of 10 with good form on both the left and right sides. Doing this first will really maximize the benefit you get out of your side and back kick repetitions.

This kick will also strengthen the muscles used and lengthen the muscle fibers over time. Each repetition you throw should be slightly higher than the one before it until you are at your true kick height max and ready to throw snapping kicks, placing much higher actual strain on the the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Remember, start every kicking session that will include side or back kicks with the side stretch kick! The front stretch kick is a good kick to start with first in a session, followed by axe kicks, front kicks, roundhouse kicks, then the side stretch kick, then finally the actual side kicks.

How to Perform the Side Stretch Kick

  1. Assume a stance halfway between a fighting stance and horse stance. Your body should be fully sideways from the imaginary target you will be side stretch kicking with the weight evenly distributed on both feet.
  2. Step by taking your back leg and crossing it behind the front leg as if you were going to perform a stepping side kick.
  3. Keeping the knee locked but definitely not hyperextended, swing what was the front leg before the step, up to the side. Your kicking foot will be parallel to the ground and your knee facing forward, at a 90 degree angle away from the imaginary target. At the same time you are kicking, lean back to maintain your balance and use the hand on the kicking side to help balance. Your back foot will be pointing forward to make sure both sides of the groin are stretched.
  4. Once your leg reaches maximum height and stretch, let the stretch reflex pull the leg down and back. No need to add extra force to the leg coming back down. Don’t let your foot slam into the ground with your leg turned or you can tear your knee.
  5. Take a step back and return to sideways fighting stance in the same position and orientation you were in.

(Note: The side stretch kick is the only kick you actually have to step first to perform. You use the momentum to get the best stretch. You can try it without stepping but it is awkward.)

Diagnosing Problems with Your Side Stretch Kick

Weak muscles

The outside of the upper thigh and the oblique abdominals are the primary muscles in this kick. Apart from doing work with ankle weights, side crunches and using the outer thigh machine at the gym are going to be two of the best exercises you can do to strengthen them. Lots of side stretch kicks and side kicks will also obviously help. Gotta put in those reps to get good!

Tight groin

Side splits and the butterfly stretch are your best bets to stretch out the groin.

Poor balance and stamina

Incorporate side stretch kicks every kicking session. Also pay close attention to what your front arm is doing. When you lean back to kick high, your front arm will go forward with the kick to help balance. As for stamina, do more weekly reps.

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