Before we train, it is very important that we warm up and stretch. The two are not the same.
Warming up has to do with things like getting the heart rate slightly higher than normal, getting the respiration rate slightly increased, getting the blood circulating, breaking a light sweat, and waking up the mind and body in general. Some examples of how these can be done are things such as, jumping up and down lightly in place, jumping jacks, running in place and jogging for a very short distance. Warming up must not be overdone and must be done very lightly, as not to pull any muscles or strain any part of the body.
Having warmed up, stretching is safer and easier. The body is warm, as opposed to being completely cold. When the body is warmed up, the muscles are warmed up, hence leading to stretching being easier. Warm muscle stretches easier than cold muscle.
Stretching should be done gradually. If one has never stretched or has not stretched in awhile, stretching must be done gradually. There are beginner stretches, intermediate stretches and advanced stretches. Beginner stretches should be shorter and more general stretches, stretching the upper, middle and lower parts of the body and in that order. Small parts of the body such as the neck and wrists should be stretched first, then the middle area and then the lower area. The lower area of the body, such as the legs, are generally the most challenging area of the body. As one gradually increases flexibility, intermediate stretching can be gradually begin, with each of the aforementioned areas can be stretched in more detail, with the finer areas being gradually stretched more and more. After much, much stretching over an indeterminate period of time, advanced stretching can gradually begin. This again entails the upper, middle and lower parts of the body, yet at this stage putting much more emphasis on various types of stretches for areas such as the back, hips, and legs. The stretching part of training will also become longer. Stretching in general should also be done at home regularly. Learning Yoga stretches, or in fact supplementing Karate training with the practice of Yoga can be extremely beneficial as well. Stretching enables the body to be in harmony with itself, thus allowing one's Karate to flow and be natural. And stretching also enables the body and mind in to be in harmony as well.
Warming up with back side stretch
Warming up and stretching also make Karate training much easier. The body will be much more flowing, relaxed and not stiff and/or fighting itself. Training without proper warming up can be frustrating and dangerous as well. Many injuries can occur from lack of warming up and stretching. It is also important to briefly warm down and briefly stretch after a training session.
A excellent book which delves much more into warming up, stretching and the science of Karate training in general is The Textbook of Modern Karate by the late, great Master Teruyuki Okazaki (who we sadly lost to COVID-19 in May of this year) and Dr. Milorad V Stricevic. This outstanding book is highly recommended for any Karate student and instructor.
The Textbook of Modern Karate - Teruyuki Okazaki and Milorad V. Stricevic M.D.1983