Best Stretches for BJJ
Be more bendy for BJJ with these easy stretches you can even do right now!
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is made for every body type, and I will say time and time again I think it’s THE martial art everyone should know how to do. As you get more into BJJ, you’ll see people do all this inverted, upside down, flexy-stretchy stuff that makes you wonder if their knees are actually made out of rubber when they do “rubber guard”.
Although, being this flexible does help in doing certain positions and moves in BJJ can help make you quite the jiu-jitsu player, being overly flexible isn’t needed in BJJ. What IS needed is having enough flexibility to make sure your body moves in the proper way when you’re training and rolling so you don’t get injured. If you’re thinking that enough flexibility is being able to do a full front split and touch your toes, then you’re wrong. Your body just needs a bit of mailability to be able to recover faster and prevent injury.
I must admit, when I started training, I was young, which means I thought I was invincible. It wasn’t until multiple knee injuries (thank GOD I didn’t need surgery for the last injury), a strained neck, and multiple butt and hip cramps, that I realized I needed to start implementing stretching into my fitness regimen and bjj training.
Why is Stretching Important for Jiu-Jitsu?
Stretching is important in general for injury prevention. If you don’t stretch regularly, your muscle fibers shorten which makes mobility harder as you get older. Mobility sounds like a technical word, but it basically means the ability to move your body and joints. If you want to be able to run, dance, walk, lift, or do something as simple as bend over or down to tie your shoes, elongated and pliable muscle fibers are key.
In terms of jiu-jitsu, the way your body moves when you roll depends on a certain level of flexibility. You use your hips a lot to move your legs and make hooks and frames. You might get forced on your shoulders when someone is trying to pass you, which can put some strain on your neck and back. If you get caught in certain positions before a submission, you might have major shoulder discomfort.
There are quite a few body parts that need to be flexible. But I decided to talk about the three major areas that I like to stretch that I feel are easiest and can help with your jiu-jitsu overall! I set three exercises for each stretch that you can try for yourself.
Disclaimer: I am not a stretching expert, but I do know these stretches stretch what needs to be stretched. Consult with a stretching coach for more info.
Check them out below
Hip and Glute Stretches for Jiu-Jitsu
Legs Cross Over Stretch
· Cross one leg over the other, keeping bottom leg straight and top leg bent.
· Place opposite arm behind the bent leg
· Look behind to fell the stretch in back and hip.
· Lie down on your back and make a figure 4 with one leg on top of the other, while keeping dow leg bend
· Thread arms through the whole that your legs make and lace fingers behind your down leg.
· Pull down leg to your chest while pushing elbow into opposite leg
· While on knees, stretch arms out in front on the floor until your chest meets the floor.
· While outstretched, bring your knees apart until your inner thighs are touching the floor
· Push your hips down until you feel the stretch in hips, inner thighs, and glutes
Shoulder Stretches for Jiu-Jitsu
· Raise hand overhead and then bend behind back
· With opposite hand grab your high elbow
· Pull elbow until you feel the stretch in your shoulder
Lying Down Stretch
· Lie down on your side with your arm stretched over head
· Bend outstretched arm behind back
· Use opposite hand to push into the shoulder stretch
· Lie down flat on your stomach with arms stretched out in a T-shape
· Cross one leg over the other while keeping stomach and shoulders flat on the mat
· Use opposite hand to stabilize and ease into the stretch
Back Stretches for Jiu-Jitsu
Bottom Leg straight, other leg crosses over
· Lie flat on back
· Raise one knee up and cross it over other leg
· Use opposite hand to lightly push knee down while looking away in opposite direction
· Rock forward and then back to get legs overhead
· Post up on shoulders to help hold you up
· You can also put your hands on your back to help support you
· Lie down on stomach with hands next to the side of chest
· Push away from the floor leaving your hips down and your chest up
· Make sure you relax shoulders and keep them away from ears
How Long Should You Do These Stretches?
I personally hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds if I’m in a rush and want to get the stretching in. When I’m taking my time, which you should be too, I hold everything from 15-45 seconds, sometimes repeating the stretch and going deeper.
How Often Should I Stretch?
In an ideal world, you’ll be stretching every day for like an hour. But, if you have things to do or if you get mentally bored like me, it’s hard. So, I would say, make it your business to intentional stretch after you train. If possible, dedicate one day to stretching at home. So, if you train BJJ a minimum of three times a week, then make sure to stretch those three times.
Again, I’m not an expert and you should consult with a stretching coach who knows more advanced stretches, but I always share what works for me.
When Should You Do These Stretches?
These stretches can be done lightly before you do your class. So, if you happen to arrive to class early and you’re on the mats, doing these stretches with the intention of warming up your body a bit always helps.
After you go through class and especially if you’ve done positional sparring/rolls, then stretching after and deeper is of course recommended. Many of the BJJ gyms I’ve gone to always has an after class stretching cool down. When the class ends, stretching and going really deep with the stretches are great way to increase your flexibility and make your muscles more malleable to prevent injury. Stretching while socializing is a great way to build community while you work on your flexibility.
If you plan on rolling after class, don’t stretch so deeply as that the relaxing of your muscles and then the sudden tightening can cause injury. This stretch should be deeper than the stretch you did at the beginning of class but not as deep as the stretch you do right after you go hit the showers.
Stretching is awesome on the days you don’t plan to do any kind of training or if you didn’t stretch at the gym. It takes some thought, even for me, to set aside some time to stretch. But all it takes is setting aside 10-15 minutes minimum to stretch while you do something else. You can even set a timer while you do something menial like scroll your social media or watch TV.
Put Stretching at the Forefront of Your Fitness
Stretching is sometimes the last thing on our minds when it comes to being “fit”. We think that we need to be strong and able to roll longer with increased cardio. Having these elements are great to our overall fitness and bjj performance, but flexibility is the thing that will give us longevity, so we are strong in the sport for years to come.
What stretches do you use to help improve your BJJ? Comment below or let’s talk on Instagram @blackgirlwhitegi_bjj