Whether you're in ballet, tae kwon do or Brazilian capoeira, high kick stretching exercises are essential for prepping your mind and body for practice. Unlike traditional stretching where you hold the stretch for a period of time, high kick stretching is dynamic and fluid and it works on all of your muscles in your hip, legs and core. Before you get fancy with spinning kicks and other more complex kicks, get familiar with the basics to prevent unnecessary injury to your groin and joints.
Stand with your feet together and raise your right knee up toward your ribs while lifting your left heel off the floor. Swing your left arm up with your elbow bent and swing your right arm behind you with your elbow bent as you raise your right knee up as if you were doing an exaggerated march.
Bring your right foot on the ground quickly on your toes and the balls of your feet, and raise your left knee up as high as you can at the same time.
Switch the position of your arms as you move your legs so that your right arm is up with your right elbow bent and your left arm swings back. Keep your focus ahead and your head up. Perform this exercise for 1 to 2 minutes.
High Straight Kick
Stand with your left foot in front of you with your right leg extended behind you and your right heel off the floor. Bring your right arm, bent at the elbow, in front of you and bring your left arm behind you like you are running.
Exhale as you kick your right foot forward just above your waist level. Flex your right foot back so that you are striking with your right heel. Swing your arms as you kick. When you kick your right foot, your left arm should be in front of you and bent at the elbow and your right arm should swing behind you. When you kick your left foot, your right arm should be in front of you and bent at the elbow and your left arm should swing behind you.
Swing your right leg back to the starting position and perform the high kick for 1 minute on each leg for three to four sets.
- American Dance/Drill Team: High Kick Techniques
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- University of New Mexico: Stretching: A Research Retrospective
- Always keep your torso straight and tall. Never bend above your waist. Keep the heel of the supporting foot on the floor at all times to stay balanced. Start with kicking just above your waist before you gradually increase the height of your kick. Different styles of high kicks are appropriate for a specific sport or activity. If you are in ballet, you would point your kicking toes. If you are in martial arts, you would kick with your foot flexed to expose your heel.
- Kicking too high and too fast initially can pull muscles and joints in your legs and groin. If you experience pain while kicking, check with your healthcare provider before continuing to train.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.