JIU JITSU STRETCHES
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly energetic combat sport that utilises a series of intricate, and proficient transitional movements. Training in BJJ core exercises can leave practitioners feeling sore, as they are often folded into precarious positions.
What This Article Covers:
- Why Is Stretching Important for BJJ
- Different Forms of Stretching
- Joints and Muscles that Need Stretching
- Different Types of BJJ Stretches
- Advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stretches
There is a significant importance in maintaining stretching techniques, as this will keep the body limber up, and stay able to stack up to the rigorous strain of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Stretching will help keep a practitioner's body healthy, injury free, and able to meet the demands of such a highly intense combat sport. Stretching has been well known to improve a practitioner's technical movements, as the more agile, and flexible a student is, the easier it will become to maximise a student's output.
WHY IS STRETCHING IMPORTANT FOR BJJ
Understanding what muscles does jiu jitsu work, will help a practitioner to know what is the most important stretches. One of the most exceedingly important aspects of all Martial Arts is the necessity to increase their range of motion, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be extremely demanding on the body of a grappler. Going through the appropriate series of stretches will ensure that a student will increase their overall range of motion. When a student begins training in BJJ they will endure an intense amount of pressure on most of their joints, so naturally limbering up their body is a great way to combat some of these debilitating factors. Stretching is important in all aspects of sports and training, as even workouts for BJJ incorporate many stretching positions. Some techniques in Jiu Jitsu take a high level of flexibility to achieve, so making sure that a student is stretching correctly is a key component. Students must also have an excellent range of mobility in order to steer clear of different injuries, as many of the BJJ submissions include manipulating joints in a directional movement. Students who warmup properly by stretching out their sore spots will achieve a smoother transition through all of their training nights. Stretching to warm up is just as important as stretching to warm down, and students must take these elements seriously if they want to achieve long jeverdy in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF STRETCHING
There are four main types of stretches that are considered important. Active stretching is the best pre-workout for jiu jitsu, as it will help a student increase the blood flow, and warm up the muscles without injury. Active stretching is when an athlete holds a stretching pose, and actively uses those same muscles to broaden their range. It is important to perform multiple functions with their muscle groups, as one muscle may lengthen while the other contracts. This is a targeted way to actively stretch the muscles, so they can function at their optimal level. A prime example of this kind of stretching is when a practitioner moves their ankle back and forth to activate their calf muscles. Passive Stretching, or otherwise known as static stretching is another extremely important type of stretch. This concept is when a student holds a position with their hand to get a much deeper stretch inside of their muscles. This kind of stretching is aimed to target the lengthening inside of the muscle, as it helps a student to a greater range of motion. A good example of this is when a student bends down and touches their toes as this is how most people stretch their hamstrings. It is also a good practise to hold any of these types of stretches for at least 30 seconds each.
Sebastian Brosche, a BJJ black belt and yoga master, deconstructs a series of stretches that we have all likely performed but which, in his opinion, are not as beneficial as we would believe. Making sure all of your stretches are performing the tasks you need them to is a crucial component of creating a stretching routine that works.
Dynamic Stretching is more of a movement type of stretch, which is extremely important to do first, as it is a great way to get the blood flow happening throughout a student's body. This type of stretching uses momentum, as a way to get dynamic movements going. Examples of this type of stretch are twisting your hips from side to side, or kicking your leg back and forward in a strategic motion. PNF Stretching, which stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, is a series of table stretches used by a physiotherapist. PNF stretching is used to restore injured muscles while keeping all the bones and joints in place. When the contraction of the muscle is released, the stretch pose is held in place for at least one minute so the muscles can relax completely.
JOINTS AND MUSCLES THAT NEED STRETCHING
Students will often ask does jiu jitsu get you in shape, as grappling art is classed as one of the most highly functional forms of combat. Stretching different muscle groups is extremely important before any kind of competitive sport. Ankle mobility is a vital aspect for BJJ athletes, as they are important for many facets of movements. When students suffer from tight calf muscles, stretching out their ankles is a great way to get a better range of motion within the foot. Students rely heavily on using their hooks, especially in the butterfly guard position, this means that ankle mobility is crucial to the warm-ups of a practitioner. Athletes will focus on the rotation of the ankles, and flexing their toes up and forward to release tension in the calf. There are also static stretches that can be performed to help stretch out these important muscles.
Stretching out a student's hips is one of the most important aspects, as practitioners use their hips in almost every technique. Hip shrimping is one of the fundamental moves that a practitioner will use to escape from control positions, so practitioners need to have strong, and mobile hips. External hip rotation is crucial in utilising different types of guards, it is also important to have a strong hip extension so practitioners can bridge, and escape from all sorts of positions. Utilising static and dynamic stretching is extremely important for hip mobility, as students need to stretch their quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip rotators, to become limbered up enough to engage different opponents.
Stretching out the upper back is another crucial part of BJJ, as the thoracic spine is the longest section of the spine, with 12 vertebrae spreading from the ribs to the base of the neck. Having spine mobility is an important factor for BJJ, as a huge range of motion is needed to help a student maximise their optimal performance. Having tight muscles like pecs, shoulders, and lats can impede a student's mobility, which can result in loads of pressure on the spine. Shoulders are another important cog in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as a lot of techniques need mobile shoulders. Bad posture can cause stiffness in the shoulders, this will also happen after high-intensity training. This is why it is exceedingly important to keep up with stretching, so students can achieve the appropriate mobility.
One of the most important body parts to stretch is the neck, which is also known as the cervical spine. The neck connects the head with the torso, as it provides mobility and movements of the head. The neck houses the cervical vertebrae, and the cervical part of the spinal cord, meaning this part of a student's body must remain intact, and warmed up before any strenuous physical activity. The neck is often under an extreme amount of pressure during BJJ training. Students must focus on neck stretches that activate a large range of motion, as that will also contribute to overall neck strength.
One of the most important components of growing in the art of BJJ is to enhance the capabilities of a student's grips. Students must work on the considerable finger, and hand strength, but more importantly must focus on significant wrist stretching. The problem with trying to stretch your wrists is that the joints are highly susceptible to securing injuries, which is usually because of too much pressure on the joints. It is important to use stretches that incorporate all ranges of movement like rotating the wrist in circles and clenching the hands into a fist. Light stretches are a good idea to help activate many muscles in the wrist, and hands. Stretching out a student's knees is also an extremely important aspect, as bad knee injuries can be concurrent during BJJ careers. It is important to build up some significant strength in the knee joint, so they are not susceptible to long-term injuries. Many of the BJJ warm-ups include significant rotational stretching of the knee, this is to warm up the knee, but also increase the range of motion, and mobility inside the knee joint.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BJJ STRETCHES
The butterfly stretch is a necessity for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes as it helps to improve the general flexibility of the hip and groin areas. This type of stretch is used in most sports all over the world as it is great for general mobility of the groin area. To do this stretch practitioners will need to sit down on the ground and bring both their heels deep into their groins. The next step is to slowly push your knees down to the mat, to generate a deep groin stretch. Students can also use variations of this stretch like instead of putting the knees to the mat they will lean forward over their ankles trying to touch their chest and elbows on the mat.
The spinal twist is another great stretch that will generate significant relief for a BJJ athlete. It is important to try and push as much flexibility into a student's spine as possible because this can be the difference between winning the battle or seizing up in the heat of the moment. The spinal twist is achieved by a student laying on their back, as they grab their knee and pull it across their body. The next step is to hold onto their hamstring tightly, as they try to keep both of their shoulders on the mat while twisting their spine away from their outstretched knee. This stretch will help students create a broader range of mobility in their spine, and they may also feel a little bit of free chiropractic relief going on, as there may be some cracks, and pops. This stretch will help tremendously with spinal flexibility, at the same time opening up the chest, which helps the oxygen to flow to the lungs.
Sebastian presents his top 5 favorite stretches for improving your BJJ in the following video after demonstrating several stretches that may be overused and less helpful than we initially thought. To optimize the advantages of the movements, these stretches can be used before, during, and after training.
The invert stretch is extremely important for BJJ athletes, as it requires an extremely high range of motion. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, athletes must be incredibly strong in their core so they can react quickly in the middle of a fight. One of the more common movements in BJJ is the invert, which requires a student to roll up onto the base of their shoulders, with their legs laying over their head. The invert stretch is simple in concept but much harder as practical application. To achieve this stretch students must lay on their back with their arms to their sides. The next step is to raise their legs off the mat, as they begin to point their toes over their head, as their body rocks onto their shoulders. This is an extremely important stretch, as not only will it open up a range of movement, but it can actually build up an athlete's core strength. Athletes can use the stretch and roll over their sides, which is called a grampie roll. Practitioners can also lay their arms out wide, and twist their heads to avoid pressure on their necks. It is extremely important to understand these skills because practitioners will often end up in a position where their opponents are stacking all their weight onto their necks.
The Hip Cars stretch is one of the most recognised mobility movements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Stretching out your hip in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is extremely important, as it is used in mostly all techniques, and used in every jiu jitsu dojo. Adding the hip car stretch to a student's flexibility routine, will help with the overall flexibility of a practitioner. CAR refers to Controlled Articular Rotations, as it basically means moving a student's hip around a whole range of motion. To achieve this stretch a student will get on their hands and knees, as they lift one of their knees off the mat, they will then begin to rotate, this will enhance their full range of motion. This stretch is an extremely popular one in Yoga, and in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as trying to improve hip flexibility is a number one priority in combat grappling sports.
ADVANCED BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU STRETCHES
Once the student has reached their optimal level of flexibility, and core strength, they will be able to easily navigate their way through the training regimes of a BJJ Academy. As the student becomes a higher level, and achieves a great range of mobility with an increased level of flexibility, they will often look for the next best advantage.
Students can enhance their ability even further by utilising harder to reach, and more advanced stretches. Many of these stretches are used in Yoga, and not only do they involve flexibility, they also involve strength and balance. Stretches like the sleeping swan, the one legged pigeon, the downward dog, and the lotus stretch, are all incredibly advanced stretches that require an extreme amount of balance, patience, strength, and flexibility. Once the student is reaching these higher levels of BJJ, it becomes considerably more important for them to branch out into more advanced methods of increasing their range of mobility, and flexibility.
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