Flexibility & Mobility: The Secret to BJJ Longevity
(Explicit Language Warning) In today’s show JT and Joey go deep on flexibility and mobility like a Jean Claude Van Damme split! What is the difference between the two very different abilities to move your body? There are also deeper explanations of Static, dynamic and PNF stretching. They break down how you can apply this understanding to your training for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and how this can keep you on the mats for the rest of your life.
Speaker 1: 0:04
Very careful a good martial artist does not become tense, but ready, essentially at this point, the fight is over. So we pretty much flow with the goal who was worthy to be trusted with the secret to limit the spot. I’m ready ,
Speaker 2: 0:29
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another Bulletproof for BJJ podcast. So guys welcome. We are here on podcast number five, and we today are getting a bit deeper on flexibility, mobility, all the things ability to help you move better. Now, I think it’s worthwhile for us to talk about the different segments or the different classifications within flexibility without getting too boring about it. Uh , can we , um, can we define the mobility and flexibility? What’s the difference first? Okay. Cause they get thrown around a lot down there . They do. They do. We throw those words around a lot too, you know, we do. It’s true. Um, throw them around like juggling balls. Um, I think the thing is when we’re talking about flexibility and mobility and the flexibility piece we’re referring to is not static, but a longer hold, stretching based work to lengthen the muscles. And then when we start talking about mobility, we’re talking about more dynamic , um, partially loaded, you know, using your body through different ranges of motion actively or dynamically. So within the classification, like if you go to the internet Wikipedia, any classification, you can find this three key definitions, which are static, dynamic and PNF is under there. And that’s where you using a degree of static contraction to trick your muscles into stretching a bit further at end range. Um, now static flexibility as it’s defined is the ability for you to be able to lengthen a muscle over a joint or for joint to move through a range of motion and for certain muscles to be able to lengthen, it’s kind of a naff , uh , way to describe it. But oftentimes , uh, we, we could even say that you’d break flexibility down into like active and passive because people can move their bodies quite well. They might be able to move through a range of motion, but if you get them to lie still and say, try and rotate and like , ah , ah, no, my stiffness, I can’t move there and I’ll, I’ll be, I’ll be completely honest. Like lots of people in jujitsu , they get warm, they start rolling. Their body feels good and they can, they can move really well. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing. Ah , it’s the key drug. Uh, and then you get somebody to just go, okay, how are you to now do a forward fold? How are you to touch your toes? And people are dying. And I I’ll be honest. I I’m one of those people who struggles with the forward fold.
Speaker 3: 3:07
I , um, can I try and expand on, please sell a little bit? Cause I think there’s there’s there was a lot in that. So just to unpack it a bit, cause it’s, it’s quite a, it’s quite a tricky thing for a lot of people to get their head around. Um, flexibility. Yeah . Is talking about your ability to put a joint in a particular range of motion, relevant to your muscles and connective tissues and whatnot. But it also, it doesn’t speak to , um, it doesn’t speak to what you’re doing, why you’re trying to express that range. So it doesn’t speak to, are you load , uh , are you trying to balance at the same time? Are you moving? So, you know, in a, in a, in a gym setting or like a clinical setting, you could like stretch my elbow and you know , JT could just hold it and go, Oh, you have quite flexible elbows. Cause you can, you can open that thing up, but then maybe I’m doing chin-ups and I’m trying to get to the bottom range of my chin up where I’m hanging a large portion of my body weight off that, off that joint. And I can’t get to that same range of motion. So the mobility thing is like, when you’re underload , when you’re trying to balance, when there’s more going on in, in, in that moment, can you express that same range of motion? And this is where a lot of people would say like mobility is the one like mobility is what’s important. Yeah. It’s kind of, I think these days for more, most intents and purposes, it’s the same you were talking about. Can you express good range of motion through your giants ? And does that carry over to your performance training, jujitsu , training your sport, running rock climbing, whatever it is, right?
Speaker 2: 4:36
So conversely to that, you get some people who they can do the splits , they can do an amazing forward fold, but then if you give them some load, like you say, do this with some load and that they’ll just shake out. Like they, they actually don’t have any strength at end range. They don’t have as much as they might have a degree of bodily control, like relevant. Soon as you start to give them some resistance that they have no level of control it’s through those ranges of motion.
Speaker 3: 5:05
That’s right. And if you think of that person that you might train with, who , um, envisage this, you’ve got someone who’s really flexible through their hips and maybe they’re kind of new to jujitsu , but they have really flexible hips and you’re trying to pass their guard. And like, you really you’re blown away at how far apart their legs can go without them looking uncomfortable. Right. It’s like, I’m basically putting this person into the splits right now. Which I mean, JTS is the guy he’s got the splits, right? It’s really fun . You put the legs. They’re like, Holy, this person is totally comfortable. And they’re basically in the splits . The thing is, is if that person is new and if they’re not particularly strong in that range of motion, then there’s a high chance that they’re going to get injured. Yes. Because you’re putting all your body weight behind it. You’re trying to crush this person, their legs, or their hips are in a very vulnerable position. Um, if they don’t have adequate strength in that range of motion, then risk is injury. Risk is very high. Um , and see that we see that with people we’ll have flexible. We see that with people who just have , uh , have a generally a low levels of strength, but high levels of flexibility. Now someone who’s mobile on the other hand, someone like JT, you can put him into that position, but he can generate force there. He can be strong through those lakes . He can pull them back together. He can hang out because he’s trained that range of motion to become strong in it. So that for me is when I would say, wow, that guy JT is super mobile. Whereas my friend who has been doing yoga for 20 years, she might be flexible. However, I don’t consider her mobile in that position because I can see that something’s about to tear there .
Speaker 2: 6:34
Yes. And I think this is probably something that’s not talked enough about in the, in the thank you Joe , for Cami mobile tech as a lovely compliment , uh , Joe is also very mobile, but will not speak to it to stay humble. Um, but I’m happy to take that. Um, uh, it’s one of those things that , um, we see it all the time where, you know, classic case of somebody who’s very strong and cannot move. It’s always, it’s , it’s very rare that you find somebody who’s got a good mixture of both, but because I come from a background of doing TaeKwonDo and , uh, we did a lot of various levels of stretching, dynamic, static , uh , and also doing PNF work where you’re, you’re , you know, you’re taking your stretch, whether it be a split or whatever it might be to end range. And then at that enrage making a , like a contraction, an isometric contraction for up to 10 seconds and then relaxing to go further. You are actually training a degree of strength as well, but you got to be careful when you’re right at the end of your range of motion. I have injured myself trying to take it too far. And that’s unlike you. Imagine that me going too far. Yeah. I’m a moderate. That’s what I am. But , uh , but then also I guess when I was trying to improve my split, when I was younger, I did a fair bit of isometric strengthening in that position. And I think , um, that’s when we can start to talk about like , um, great phrase from you, Joe , is that in range closing? Can you speak to that? Uh , yeah.
Speaker 3: 8:06
Well, that’s a term that I picked up from Emmett Louis . Who’s a shout out to him, a little seasoned , incredible international mobility guy. He’s I worked with him as one of his students for a number of years and he’s come and taught here at our gym before, but yeah, he talks a lot about this end range, closing idea. So here’s a simple way for you guys to visualize it. Um , I want to reach forward and touch my toes and I want to do it with my legs straight. So we’re talking about a toe touch or a forward fold. Um, now you can imagine this you’re standing like it together. Knees are locked and you reach down, try and touch your toes. Now, however far you can get or can’t get, you can already envisage, you’re going to feel tension in your hamstrings. And you’re going to feel probably tension right in the back of your knees, right? Let’s calf hamstring. So what’s going on here is you’ve got white hanging off tissues along the back of the body and that backside of the body, right? Glutes, lower back hamstrings calves. That’s the stuff that’s getting stretched now in our simple , uh , in our very simple , uh , visualization of our definition of flexibility, most of us think that it’s about just hanging more white off that position and that those tissues that are getting stretched just like a pulley and a rope, those tissues are just getting tugged on. Eventually lengthening it doesn’t actually work like that. So in range closing, I want you now to think about when you’re in that position, you’ve got their backside, which is stretching, but that means that on the opposite side of those giants. So on the front side of the body, we’ve got muscles shortening, right? Lengthening on the back, shortening on the front. So the muscles are shortening quads, hip flexors , and abs, right? So when I’m in that position, if I focus on contracting and voluntarily shortening those muscles forcefully, all of a sudden, I start to open up more range of motion because my body is focused on this contraction, which then means it’s essentially, and this is a very simplistic way to look at it. My body’s not concentrating or not thinking about the lengthening. It’s just thinking about the shortening and that in turn allows me to go further. Yes. And that’s when we start to become truly mobile because we are going into a position using strength and force rather than just hanging out there, uncomfortably, hoping that it’s going to get more comfort .
Speaker 2: 10:17
Yes. And I think also , uh , just doing a bit of a reading across various different studies, showing that really , uh , active modes, dynamic and PNF and active modes of flexibility , uh, yield greater returns sooner , uh, than just the static piece of just kind of trying to hang weight on muscles and uh , without, without being too sciency about it, the term relevant to that in the same way. If you think about , uh , doing a bicep curl in order for your hand to touch your own shoulder, your tricep needs to relax in the same way. If you want your arm to straighten, you have to contract your tricep and your bicep must relax. This is called the principle of reciprocal inhibition. So two opposing muscles, one contracts, the other relaxes, and this is what causes movement around the joint. And essentially , um, in a very simplified form, speaking to what you were just saying there, Joe . Um, and that’s the thing I think is misunderstood. Um , when it comes to doing , uh , flexibility training mobility training, because, you know, I have actually , um, and this is just a discovery of my own. And then later I went to , uh , uh, advanced strength conditioning course. And they talked about the famous case of a runner. I think it was 200 meters. Um, uh , I think it was an English runner and he was doing slumps. So sitting there, head down, trying to stretch his hamstring long hold static, work, jumps up, he feels warm. He feels loose. He’s running any tears, his hamstring and everyone’s ah, heartbreak. And then his father runs down onto the, onto the thing to help him across the line. And he’s like, don’t help me. And he’s like, nah , come on. It’s game over. I’ll help you. It’s pretty son . Now I can imagine this. It’s pretty tragic, especially if he, if your son Joe were to do inappropriate flexibility training, I taught you,
Speaker 3: 12:13
You up, you walked yourself across the
Speaker 2: 12:15
Line. You know , I gave you my good hamstrings, good meaty hamstrings. And what have you done with them? Not enough. Um, no, I think , uh, it’s interesting because I did something similar. I was sitting in a pancake , uh, this was before a national championship in TaeKwonDo and I’d allowed myself to call down there, which is a problem. And then my coach got me to stand up and say, all right, let’s do some ax kicks and blah, blah. And I was like, okay, I’ve never had any issues. I do an ax kick. And uh, there goes your semimembranosus. I spent too much time. I was just sitting in that static position. And what happens is , uh , your golgi tendon bodies, which are basically at the bodyguards of , uh , how far a muscle can move, which they are. They’re like, no, you only get this much range. You can set them through doing static stretching. You’re like, nah , this is, as far as we go, then I tried to take my hamstring through a dynamic range, which was more than what I’d set, the kind of range at. And I got a tear and that was not much fun. And I , I think what we’ll notice now, compared to say 30 years ago, people are not doing a lot of static stretching before training. They’re doing dynamic train , they’re doing dynamic flexibility. They’re doing mobility, they’re doing active work, but then post-training, that’s where you’re seeing more of the kind of a static or longer hold stretching piece. Would I be right in saying that, Joe ?
Speaker 3: 13:39
Yeah, I do agree to an extent. I think that people have sort of come around to that. And I would say that, that, you know, that style of kind of mobility work pre-training is now more popular than it was. However, something that we, that I’ve always come back to with this. Um, I think one of the main things, there is the idea of cold warming up and cooling down. And it’s like, if your body’s warm, then stretching is good. Like stretching is fine. Right? Sure . And I, you only have to look at some of the finest athletes in the world, Olympic weightlifters dancers and gymnasts , and you will see them doing static stretching before they go and train. Sure. You’ll also see them doing dynamic stuff. You’ll also see them warming up with strength work. It’s not like they’re just hanging out, doing stretching in a cold environment. They’re doing it all. Um, but this static stretching piece and as well as dynamic , um, it’s, it’s really heavily featured. And for , for those kinds of, and those , those athletes are the best movers and the, some of the strongest athletes out there in the world. Yes. It , depending how you define strength. Fine . So , um, the, so I really think there’s a place for it. Um, but yeah, I do think it needs to be woven in. And , and I think if we go back to the way that we talk about it with , uh , the Bulletproof of BJJ program, because we know that most jujitsu players don’t have 45 to 60 minutes to warm up like a gymnast would, or like a dancer would, right. Because these guys have training four hours a day. So it’s a long warmup . It’s a long call down. Um, because your standard jujitsu gym doesn’t even do a Wal-Mart right. Star jumps and whatever. Do the round with the arm thing. Um, then we have to acknowledge that most people can’t put too much time towards this. So then JT and I , and this is the hallway we designed the program is like, all right , well, what is the most bang for buck of stuff that we can have people do, that’s gonna produce the greatest result with the minimum amount of input. And that is okay for the warmup dynamic stretching. Yes. Five to 10 minutes, you’re moving, right? So you are, you’re moving your body. It’s dynamic. It means you’re getting warm. You’re placing the muscles through load, right. Kind of doing Squatty type staff , pressing type stuff, but you’re also going to you’re in range. And the beauty is there is that you’re getting a whole bunch of different things tied up into one, five, 10 minutes called jump on the NetSuite piece . And then after training, okay. What’s the most bang for buck thing here? Well, we want to lengthen the muscles back out. We want to open the joints up. We want to reset muscular tension from the training session. And we want to relax the nervous system. So like , well, static stretching is really good there. So that’s kind of why we have this simple classification of dynamic before static after. Yes. Right. And it works really well. It’s like if you’ve only got five to 10 minutes , uh , this is the that you do, right?
Speaker 2: 16:22
Yeah, definitely. And I think also on that , uh, the flexibility that we work within Bulletproof for video JS , like, so for example, like Joe’s warm up is different to mine. So I’ve got a bit of a suspect ankle that I’m working on. So I’ve got to put a bit of time into my ankle range of motion. I have to, otherwise my ankle is not going to get better in the same way. Joe’s been working with his knee for a number of like a period of time. He’s got to do a certain amount of work on, you know, around his knee to make sure he feels right with his knee. And so everybody’s different guys. If you’ve got a bad , uh, you’ve got a sh a shoulder, which is, you spent all day at the desk and , and your shoulders feeling like a bit impinged. You have to address that before you get on the mat, because you can not expect your instructor to cater the up
Speaker 3: 17:09
To, you know, you’ve, you’ve got to
Speaker 2: 17:11
Take initiative in the same way with your learning. Like without getting out of the lane here, it would be, it’s very good. And it’s advisable that you would come to class with an idea in mind of what you’re working on tonight, regardless of what’s going on. It doesn’t mean you don’t do the drill or you don’t participate in the class, but you have something in your mind. Like I’m definitely working on this guard pass. I’m definitely working on this sweep. If you know, you have a bad ankle, you need to bring attention to it before you step on the mat. Because this lack of awareness, I believe is one of the chief causes of injury. And this is a classic line. This happens all the time. I was running late. I had to make it the class. I was 15 minutes. Like, yeah, I didn’t do a warm up. I just jumped in. And then I told him ACO like , uh, all the worst things, not prepared running late. Didn’t prepare the body at all. Adrenaline from running late. So feeling warm like, Oh, I can just jump. Oh , like I’ve got the adrenaline of being late. And I don’t hope the coach doesn’t crucify me, but the tissues of the body are not ready. And you’re about to do one of the most dynamic, chaotic things you can do. And, Oh , it’s just really, I didn’t think I could hurt myself drilling. Well, actually you can’t . So I feel like if we’re talking about , um , injury prevention, that preparation piece is so important. And then if we’re talking more towards recovery and how good you feel the next day, that small investment of 10 minutes after class has a huge impact on how you sleep just winding down. So you’re not tired and wired at home, just mulling over how you couldn’t escape them out or how you got choked. And then, you know, that improved sleep, your nervous system being at a lower frequency you’re having better circulation means when you wake up in the morning, you’re not going to feel like a Truckee .
Speaker 3: 18:59
That’s right. That’s right. You’re in a much better position. You’ve recovered more effectively. Yes. Something that , um, that I think is really, really relevant to mention here, because for a lot of people listening, it’s like, and we know that like jujitsu is predominantly a male sport, right? Yeah . Huge amount of females in the game, but predominantly males, large base of our audience is male. And what we see repeatedly is that a lot of these, and I’m not even gonna , I only, I don’t even need to specify males . Cause I see women in the same boat, but we see people who are strong and proficient at jujitsu, but they’re tight. Right. And these people look at the mobility stuff we do and they’re like, me. Like I can handle the chin-ups and the kettlebell presses and you know , the deadliest and whatever . But when I get to the mobility workouts or when you’re making me stretch, it’s tough. It hurts. Right. And it’s really , uh , I think a really important way for people to view this because this might change your whole perspective on it. Um, I always use the, the elbow here, cause it’s an easy one right here, right in front of me. Um, imagine , uh , you can see my joint here. Right? I’m able to fully extend my elbow and I’m able to fully flex it. Right. So I’ve got full range of motion in that elbow. Let’s say, if I go and do bicep curls, I’m then performing the bicep curl to that joint , uh , full potential. Right? However, if I have really tight elbows as a lot of digital people do where I can’t fully extend it, but in stand, I’ve got this kind of bent arm when I’m , when I’m fully straight and then I can only really bring it to here. Cause my elbow is a stiff from getting on board all these years and not tapping early enough. Now my bicep curl looks like this. So my bicep curl is actually like a quarter of the distance traveled of the, the good, flexible elbow, right? It’s not fully expressed. That’s right. So imagine that across your whole body, your hips, your spine, your knees, your ankles, your wrists, your shoulders, none of those joints can express their full potential. And so that means that when you’re strength training, you’re only ever accessing a very small portion of what you’re actually capable of. And I think for a lot of people, it’s like, Holy, I never thought about it, but it’s like, you can train that range as much as you want. And sure . You might get a little bit stronger, but really, if you can start to open that range up, all of a sudden you start to access exponential strength gains. Definitely. And this is the that’s hard to change. Like we understand how tough it is for adults to change their flexibility, right? Yes. But it’s the greatest thing that you can invest your time in. I agree. Coupled with strength training, there is nothing that’s more potent in my opinion, for developing a Supreme physicality and athleticism.
Speaker 2: 21:36
Definitely. And , and that’s the thing. I feel that most people are not acknowledging that there is structural inhibition that their inability to move their body is a handbrake. It’s like, literally, I don’t know . You may have never done this, but I’d definitely done this. Try to drive with the handbrake on still . Why, why is that red exclamation, Mark shine? Like I just had the car service. Why is it driving a handbrake click ? You know, it can happen, right? That’s a lack of awareness. You have this throughout your whole entire body until you get that red exclamation Mark, which is pain. Ah, now my shoulder hurts. I didn’t do anything. Yeah. Because it’s chronic, right? Like we can have those acute phases. Yeah. Someone yanks on your arm and pops your elbow. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh, I’m injured. But it’s very rarely do we acknowledge our actions are leading us down the party injury. And that’s a chronic thing. That’s a behavioral thing because we’re not doing the work to, I guess, keep us healthy to do the right maintenance and look after our bodies. And the thing I find super annoying is when things don’t work the way they’re mentored , uh , whatever that might be and the way I look at range of motion, very articulate it very well, but it’s a zipper. So when you got a zipper that only unzips part of the way down, like you can’t get into the thing you’re using you also, it doesn’t zip up properly . There’s nothing worse than a zipper that breaks like a cheap competition, hoodie, cheap competition at the worst , uh, or even , uh, you know , uh , a backpack or few cookies out there. You’ve got the cross-body piece. You’ve got the, you got the bum bag that you’re now wearing , uh, lads .
Speaker 3: 23:15
Well , trying to get to your flip phone, but you’re like, God it . I can’t get to my flip phone,
Speaker 2: 23:20
Any of my other , uh, items. Um, and that’s the thing. If you can fully , uh , there’s nothing better than a good, strong zipping, open it, shut it. It does its job. Your muscle fighters are very much the same. If you can only open the zipper halfway, you’re only accessing half of the potential of that thing. And that that’s actually not useful when you’ve got somebody who’s going to force your body like that’s right. Four sets it wide open. And now suddenly you have an , uh , a chronic issue. That’s now turned into boom, an acute issue. And now you’ve got to go see the physio. Now you got to go see the surgeon. Now you’re in a painting
Speaker 3: 23:58
Spot on mate. Tom . What’s the, what’s the big takeaway from today’s chat.
Speaker 2: 24:03
I , I believe that , uh, flexibility in mobility is the most neglected thing that we see in grapplers. And I also, I think we shared this small gripe with the SNC community, which is stop stretching, stretching. Isn’t good for you. Well that my friends is. Um , if you hear anybody saying, Oh, don’t stretch . It’s not good for you. Ask that person, how’s your range of motion. How’s your toe touch? Cause a lot of these people who are decrying and saying that flexibilities is not good for you generally do not. That’s not what they’re good at. That’s why they don’t want to promote it. And I would definitely say even I’ve had injuries in my life. Um, having had a background in daily flexibility, training, daddy, static, dynamic doing , uh , PNF training , uh, it has helped save me. And that’s why I’m still doing jujitsu now. And that’s why I feel as good as I do feel now. And I would wish the same for anyone else doing jujitsu. So if there’s something that could increase your longevity, it would be to have a good prep routine before you train and to have a solid post-training routine. And, and, and it doesn’t take long, you know, it’s, it’s honestly 10 minutes before class, 10 minutes after class, you do that. And if you even take the step further to do a little bit of extra on days off, you’re going to feel great. Like, why would you not want that for yourself? Because that’s what we want .
Speaker 3: 25:31
Right. Well said, brother.
Speaker 2: 25:33
All right , man. I think we will call that and make it a wrap. And uh, definitely looking forward to more deeper discussion on digital topics. Now guys, if you want to reach us because you have any questions or any suggestions for our podcast, you can reach firstname.lastname@example.org or just messages on our Instagram at Bulletproof for BJJ. Yeah .
Speaker 3: 26:00
And if you’ve got a , if you’ve got questions, if you want to talk about training, if you don’t want to know any of that stuff hit us up. We get people from all over the world coming to us for advice, more than happy to answer. Um, if you’ve got suggestions for you’d like us to talk about on the podcast, five , those two , we’d love to hear it and make sure you jump onto our community page, which is free. You got a Q and a with JT every week. You get little tidbits from us throughout the week. It’s the Bulletproof for BJJ community. It’s on Facebook. Um, yeah. Get involved with , see you guys.
Speaker 1: 26:26