Nobody likes to spend extra time doing flexibility and mobility work. It is every athlete’s nightmare to warm up or cool down in every training session. As important as stretching is for professional athletes, it is even more important for the everyday Joe. Especially for those involved in grappling martial arts like BJJ. Giving your body a stretch after a hard rolling session is the best way to ensure longevity and prevent injuries. It also helps you calm down and gives you time to work on breathing techniques. But most importantly, it is the one thing that’s going to ensure you’re at 100% next time you need to grapple. So, knowing that everyone hates long and boring flexibility/mobility cooldowns, we bring you a fun and easy BJJ stretch routine you can do in minutes!
What is the best way to approach stretching after Jiu-Jitsu? Is it Yoga, mobility work involving a bunch of balls and pipes, or going by feel? To tell you the truth, all of the above have their benefits. However, none of them are really a good choice after BJJ. For starters, Yoga requires time and focused breathing in order to get the maximum benefits. MObility work requires tools and is a better fit before training or done on a separate day. It too takes a lot of time to finish. Going by feel is probably the worst thing you can do, especially if you have no idea how to stretch. Stretching an achy body part is the worse thing you can do for it! So, how should a BJJ stretch routine that’s both short and effective look like?
Well, there are a few things a good BJJ stretch routine must cover. First, it needs to address the entire body. Next, the focus needs to be on those muscles that really get worked during grappling. Finally, it needs to be short and appropriate for all skill levels. Sound impossible right? Well, it not only possible but very easy. A few exercises in the right order are all you need in order to stay limber and injury-free. Let’s look at which exercises are best for grapplers and why we need to use them daily!
Why We Need Stretching
Let’s cover all the important basics of stretching before we move on to the best BJJ stretch routine. After all, everyone raving about stretching must be for a good reason, right? Well, it is. Actually, there are plenty of reasons why grapplers need regular and precise stretching.
For starters, stretching elongates the muscles which helps them realign while they’re still warm from training. This greatly helps in the prevention of small injuries that tend to pile up over time. It also prevents scar tissue from forming which ensures the muscles can work at an optimal rate.
The next huge benefit is one many people do not really think about. Joint health. While the muscles get most of the focus, the joint also gets benefits. All muscles end in tendons on each side. All of these tendons, in turn, attach to bones, in most cases near joints. A good stretching routine helps you keep your joints humming. Stretching is also a great tool to deal with joint and/or muscle pain.
Blood flow is another huge benefit of stretching that people often overlook. Correct stretching provides the muscles with increased blood flow that helps them repair and recover much faster. It also primes them for receiving much-needed nutrients which you should supply to your muscles as soon as possible after hard training, especially rolling.
George Lockhart knows all there is about feeding your muscles. You can either read, watch or do both in order to learn his methodology o performance nutrition for grapplers. Check out his “Nutrition And Weight Management System” DVD and E-book bundle.
The All-In-One BJJ Stretch Routine
So, what is the best way to approach stretching after multiple competition-level rolls? Well, we said we’ll aim for simplicity so we’re going to limit the BJJ stretch routine to just 8 exercises. Furthermore, we’re going to employ smart programming that’ll keep the routine short, yet as effective as an hour-long Yoga session.
The whole routine shouldn’t take you more than 12 minutes. There’s no way you do not have an extra 12 minutes at the end of class to go over a few basic stretches. The goal is to hold each stretch for a minute. Wait, 8 exercises and 12 minutes, something’s not right here. Well, a few of the stretches are done bilaterally, meaning you need to spend a minute on each side. In terms of equipment, all you need is a wall, your Gi, and your belt. If you have a foam roller lying around the academy, you can use that instead of your Gi.
#1. Legs Up The Wall
We begin the BJJ stretch routine with the legs up the wall stretch. This one is a simple as the name suggests. Simply lie next to the wall and get your butt a close to the wall ass possible. In the best-case scenario, you should be touching the wall. Straighten your legs up and put them together. Lie flat with your back on the mats and keep the back of your head on the ground as well. Keep the arms bent at the elbows, palms on your belly. Stay there for the minute and try to calm your breath as much as possible
#2. Wall Straddle Stretch
From the previous position, you’ll simply proceed to widen your legs to each side, as far as comfortable. Remember that stretching shouldn’t feel uncomfortable at any point. Your torso, head, and arms remain as in the first stretch. Your legs should be as wide as possible. heels on the wall. Once you reach your maximum stay there for a few breaths. Use the remainder of the minute to try and go even further. With every exhale attempt to get your legs just a little bit wider. Stop before you feel discomfort.
#3. Wall Butterfly Stretch
The wall butterfly stretches much like the seated butterfly. When you have your legs up the wall, gravity does not play as big of a role in the stretch, meaning you’ll need to work a bit more. Since you’re already there, all it takes is to get your feet next to one another after the wall straddle stretch. Once you have them there, try and get your heels as close to your butt as possible. Keep your head and torso on the ground but place your hands on each knee to help with the depth of the stretch. Once again, use the exhales to go deeper into the stretch and never overdo it. This is a nice relaxation from the wide straddle and an awesome way to increase your hip flexibility for BJJ.
#4. Wall Glute Stretch (Each Side)
This is one you’re used to doing regularly. All that changes now is the position of the support leg. For the glute stretch, you need to place the ankle of one leg over the knee of the other. The support leg is going to be placed on the wall, knee bent at 90 degrees. The other leg goes in front of you and on the knee of the first one, also at 90 degrees. Place both your arms on the shin, one at the knee and the other at the ankle. Not unlike adjusting a triangle choke. Make sure you keep your ankle steady and push on the knee as much as possible. Repeat on the other leg for a minute as well.
#5. Spinal Rotations (Each Side)
Another classic stretch, yet usually not done correctly. As you finish with the wall glute stretch, lay on your side and place one leg on top of the other. Keep the knees bent and the feet on the wall. Get a foam roller, or simply roll up your Gi jacket and put it under your neck. This is a crucial part of the stretch as your spine needs to be in alignment. straighten both arms and place them on top of each other in front of your chest. Now open the top arm and look as far to the other side as possible. Let your top arm open up as much as you can, while still keeping it straight. Again, repeat on the other side once you’re done.
#6. Belt-Assisted Hamstring Stretch (Each Side)
This one is very simple and to the point. Get in the same position as with the first stretch. Take your belt and fold it in the middle. Now place one foot directly in the loop and hold on to the two straps. The other foot stays up on the wall. Raise the leg that’s in the belt towards you and attempt to straighten your knee as far as you can. If you think you can go further, place your hands further up the belt straps on either side. Repeat on the other leg.
#7. Wall Hip Flexor Stretch (Each Side)
The hip flexor stretch is a complete core stretch, despite its name suggesting otherwise. For this one, you need to be facing away from the wall. Place one knee on the mat, right up against the wall, so that your shin and instep are on the wall. Have the other leg in front of you, bent at the knee, like at the bottom of a lunge. push in with oy ur hip and raise your arm on the side where your leg is up against the wall. If you can’t get your knee to the wall, use your Gi or whatever’s around to elevate it behind you as much as you can.
#8. Backward Spinal Stretch
To finish this BJJ stretch routine, you’ll once again turn to the foam roller or rolled up Gi jacket. Simply place it on the mats and lie over it, so that your upper back is directly over the roller/Gi. Bend backward putting the top of your head on the mats and extend both your arms over your head. Stay in the position for the duration of a minute.