Flexibility isn’t just crucial for being able to keep up in jiu-jitsu class it quickly means the difference between being tapped out pounded out in the cage and can keep you alive on the street longer. So how do you improve your flexibility?
Why You Need an Elite Level of Flexibility
Just because you aren’t the most flexible person in the world (or can’t even touch your ankles) doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pick up jiu-jitsu training by any means. In fact jiu-jitsu training itself is one of the best ways to increase your flexibility as long as you are in a good school.
However, if you want to live longer, get the most out of your training, earn that next belt or compete you are going to want to get the edge with some extra flexibility training and hacks.
The more flexible you are the better you will perform, the faster you will move up the ranks, the less likely (or at least often) you will get hurt, the better you will be able to defend yourself on and off the mat, the longer you can go without tapping out and the more you will win.
David Geier, director of sports medicine at the Medical University of SC even goes as far as to say “Flexibility is the 3rd pillar of fitness, next to cardiovascular conditioning and strength training”.
Flexibility & Stretching 2.0
Obviously stretching is core to increasing flexibility for jiu-jitsu but stretching in itself does far more good than just increasing flexibility…
Benefits of Stretching & Increased Flexibility You Need Include:
- Improving range of motion (ROM)
- Unlocking maximum potential in strength building
- Increasing muscle growth and size
- Speeding up metabolism
Of course this also brings the ability to execute new jiu-jitsu and grappling techniques like the rubber-guard and to unleash moves on the mat which your opponent may not have trained well enough against.
Quick Tips for Better Stretching and Flexibility:
- Warm up before stretching with light aerobic exercise and joint rotations
- Stretch before and after strength training, cardio and jiu-jitsu workouts
- Use both static and dynamic stretching techniques
- Check out “PNF” and “contract-relax” stretching techniques
3 Enhanced Flexibility Training Tricks for Jiu-Jitsu Competitors
Want to get the edge with a formidable level of flexibility?
If you want to go pro or at least expect to compete and win you need to go way beyond basic stretching. You need to have an edge most others don’t.
Here’s what the pros do that your class buddies probably skimp on…
While it may not sound anywhere near as exciting as executing a rear naked choke, kimura or pounding an opponent into the mat with your fists and elbows, massages can help you stay loose, help prevent injury, keep you training at the max and make you feel a lot better after workouts and before fights.
Don’t knock chiropractic till you’ve experienced it for yourself. It isn’t just for cracking your spine back into shape or for pain relief. Many top athletes swear by regular chiropractic adjustments including all NFL teams and many top UFC competitors and it can help improve your range of motion and deliver many of the other benefits we’ve mentioned above.
Several of the Gracies, Machado and BJ Penn are just some of the BJJ names who have regularly practiced yoga in order to increase flexibility for jiu-jitsu tournaments. If it doesn’t sound tough enough for you then look for a “Power Yoga” class. In addition to regular stretching yoga’s incorporation of breathing increases flexibility as well as endurance and can improve mindset for competing.
In fact, Wallid Ismael when commenting on preparing, and winning, his Jiu-jitsu match against Royce Gracie in 1998 said “I was relaxed doing yoga and this gave me the equilibrium to fight well”.
So start committing to dedicating more time to flexibility focused training every week and starting winning more!
James Labrie is a content creator for Gameness. When James isn’t writing, he enjoys practicing Brazilian Jiu, riding his bike, and painting.