Following on from my previous post on stretching for Capoeira, I wanted to share five more stretches that we still use in Capoeira and outside the circle of Capoeira, with some variations thrown in.
Standard: Keep your legs together. With your knees locked out, try to compress your body at the hips. And yes, you can point your toes if you like to make it pretty.
The Jefferson Curl:
Steve Maxwell first showed this to me, and then again most recently Coach Sommers, it is a fantastic tool for promoting both strength through the spine and flexibility.
Start by standing tall on a flat surface or an elevated surface and with some kind of weight in your hands. This could be a barbell or kettlebells. You’re not looking for the heaviest weight possible, so start light (for example, 5kg) and progress from there.
When performing the movement, lock out your knees so your legs are straight. Then lean forward slowly, and think about “peeling” each vertebrae one at a time, until your arms are hanging down as low as they can. Try not to let your hands rest on your feet or the floor.
If you can touch the floor, move up onto an elevated surface (for example, a box or weight plate). Ultimately you are looking to have your upper body rest against the front of your legs. To return to the top, contract through the backs of your legs, concentrating on your hamstrings, and roll up one vertebrae at a time.
Active: This particular version of the pigeon stretch has a slight ‘tweak’ to it I guess, I’m taking this version from Ido Portal and it’s more of an active pigeon stretch. It’s fantastic for opening up your hips.
Start on all fours and slide one leg back. Lean forward to place most of your weight on the front leg. Now play around with letting that front knee fall out to the side. Find your sticky spot and hang there for a while.
Example of this would be 10 reps then a hold for 10 seconds on the last rep.
For this one, we start with the lead leg directly in front of you, with the knee bent at 90° lining up with the foot. Then the trail leg out to the side and also bent at 90° inline with the heel.
Lean forward to get the deep stretch through the hip and glute minimus.
For the trail leg, try to square yourself off inline with the knee, if you cannot, you can lean back.
Sit on the floor in what I guess you would call a typical hamstring stretch position. Turn your upper body towards the bent knee, grabbing it with the opposite hand and lean your upper body towards the foot of the straight leg. The trick with this one is to hold on tightly and think about guiding your head and shoulders towards and beyond the foot!
This is a very common position to be in when playing Capoeira, as a way of escaping (esquiva) attacks. It’s great position to practice to ‘teach’ your hips how to do the splits.
Straighten one leg (again point your toes if you feel like it). Tuck your other leg up towards your butt, trying to keep your heel and glutes nice and close to each other. With that same leg, try to keep your foot flat on the ground, and your knee and toes pointing in the same direction.
Deltoid capsule stretch:
Lie face down (prone) and feed your left arm underneath your chest. Let your left knee fall out to the side.
To add more intensity to it, reach forwards with the non-stretching arm.
Scorpion stretch (pec to bicep):
Lie prone on the floor. Reach forward with one arm, then out about 45° (so either 10:30 or 2:30 on a clock). Keep the non-stretching arm close to the body (like a push up position), and use it to create leverage and push the stretching shoulder into the ground.
Reach the opposite leg to the stretching arm backwards over the body and just hang there.