"How Do You Improve Flexibility and Mobility for BJJ?"
The dynamic nature of Brazilian jiu-jitsu requires us to be able to bend ourselves into all kinds of weird and wonderful positions. To be able to achieve these gymnastic like postures you need both Flexibility and Mobility. Today I will explain the difference between the 2 and how implementing them into your daily routine will change your Jiu-jitsu lifestyle for good!
FLEXIBILITY: The capacity to move a joint through a range of motion.
MOBILITY: the capacity to move a joint through a range of motion under load.
First things first if you do not have a full and healthy range of motion at any of your major joints we need to add range before we add load. So if you are currently restricted in your range of motion at any joint due to injury or long term lack of use this needs to be restored through stretching and flexibility training. This approach requires a mixture of both dynamic, active and more passive movements and positions to lengthen the muscle groups being targeted.
If you have a healthy range of motion spending more time on increasing flexibility is a waste of time. Having increased movement at a joint without the ability to control it is not only unhelpful but also potentially injurious.
Mobility training is the key to taking the next step in physical mastery and better BJJ. Mobility drills are movement based and require you to take your body through as full a range of motion as you can control. These drills can be progressed by increasing movement complexity and adding load.
The best way to improve both of these qualities is to build them into your existing schedule. In order to get the best results you want to include Mobility drills as your own customised Warm Up before you start Jiu-jitsu class. Flexibility work is best done as a Cool Down after class when your body is warmest and your connective tissues are at their most elastic.
For people who are really looking to take their movement to another level we recommend doing additional Stretching sessions, which incorporate both Dynamic and Static methods to increase range of motion.
Here is an example of a Warm Up sequence:
- Active Pigeon 3 sets x 10 reps each
- Active Wall Lunge 3 sets x 10 reps each
- Table Top Press. 3 sets x 10 reps each
Here is an example of a Cool Down sequence:
- Frog Stretch 2 sets x 60 seconds
- Lazy Pigeon. 2 sets x 60 seconds
- Seated Shoulder Extension. 2 sets x 60 seconds
The active nature of the Mobility drills as part of the Warm Up are ideal for increasing body temperature, increasing circulation and increasing proprioceptive awareness (balance & feel) This is a much better way to prepare your body for Jiu-jitsu than: star jumps, jogging and sit ups, all of which can increase joint tightness that will inhibit good biomechanics for BJJ.
Longer hold active and static stretching as part of a Cool Down, require a greater focus on breathing and consciously relaxing of the target muscles is a great way to regain control of your breathing and lower your heart rate. This allows you to unwind all the tension you just created rolling, squeezing and cranking.
Capitalising on your elevated level of circulation is a perfect way to push new blood into the tight tissues to supply nutrients for repair and speeds the removal of metabolic waste products and deoxygenated blood. This helps reduce muscle soreness the next day enabling you to get back to training sooner.
The added bonus of doing a few minutes of focused breath work after Stretching will help flip the switch off to your fight or flight response. This will eliminate the tired but wired feeling you get when you get home buzzed from BJJ but can’t get to sleep which ultimately leaves you exhausted the next day.
Flexibility and Mobility are essentially movement skills that require practice, investing a little bit of time on a regular basis will give you a good return. If you are really tight and in need of a dramatic change dedicating 2 full sessions just to mobility and stretching is a good idea to see improvement. Don't make yourself a prisoner in your own body, a little effort everyday will reduce tightness and soreness while restoring physical freedom, this is the way.