Functional core strength
Martial arts strikes focus on producing power through arms and legs in the most efficient way. The core is not just the ‘six pack’ when it comes to martial arts. It includes the trunk, belly and the legs. Anatomically the following major muscle groups are involved
- rectus abdominis, the six pack
- transversus abdominis, crisscrossing set of muscles that connect with the diaphragm
- psoas, the longest muscle from the ribcage to the thigh bone
- vastus medialis, the inner thigh muscles (a part of quadriceps)
Practicing kicks target all these areas which translate into further benefits.
Improved posture and relaxed spine
Take the example of a roundhouse kick. There is a twisting power generated that involves the obliques, psoas and inner thighs. When practiced correctly, it opens up tight hips, releases tension from the lower back and builds obliques that holds the spine in place. Once the muscles are developed functionally, extra load is removed from the spine which returns it to its natural relaxed S-curves shape.
Reduces tightness in the thighs and calves
Kicks work on engaging the major leg muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, calves etc. In a front kick, both the hamstrings and quadriceps are engaged and relaxed alternately. As awareness of these muscles increase with repeating the kicks, the muscles become supple and toned.
The gluteus maximus, the ‘butt muscle’ is the largest muscles in the body that powers lower body movements. A sedentary life at a desk weakens this muscle along with tightening the psoas (see above) that can cause lower back pain.
With the right kind of training in kicks, these muscles can be re-activated that allows for relaxed walking, running and general comfort. Consistent movement that re-educates these muscles are the safest way to correct imbalances that arise from weak glutes. So show up in training and keep at those kicks.