Nearly every BJJ class begins the same — some of the warm ups change, but generally are very similar. First, we bow in, and next, we run. Running can take many different forms and use many different exercises. Afterwards, most gyms usually have a light stretch.
The stretch in my opinion is the most important part of the warm up! We all know stretching is good for us but many opt out of the stretch for various reasons. This is a big mistake. Whether before a class, open mat or competition stretching is a must.
The first thing stretching does is helps you increase your blood circulation. This lets your body deliver nutrients and blood to your muscles quicker and makes injury less likely.
You are also less likely to be sore after training since blood is flowing where it needs to be. Your muscles are being fueled during even the beginning of your training session.
Another great benefit to stretching for BJJ athletes is the increase in flexibility. Certain stretches show us our own limits on where our body can go. However, as you stretch your muscle tissue is literally pulled apart and becomes longer allowing for greater flexibility. As we have all seen, flexibility can be just as dangerous as any other advantage against your opponent. Imagine how much easier it would be to recover guard, play inverted, or berimbolo with much more flexible limbs.
The third area I think stretching helps the most in is pain relief. We have all shown up to class feeling tired, beat and very sore. Some of us have has serious injuries to our limbs or back and feel this pain daily.
When we stretch our muscles we are breaking them down in a similar way to resistance training. This strengthens the muscles and also warms them up which can relieve current pain and prevent future pain and injuries.
These three areas are the pillars of why I will always start my train with a light stretch when I’m sore or about to train hard. If we can continue to prevent soreness, injury, increase flexibility and relive pain through proper stretching we can continue to further our self in our own BJJ journey.
I have always believed it’s important to do the things that will benefit us in the long run and not just here and now. So lets stretch and stay on the mats until we are old and grey with smiles on our faces :).
Do you have any tricks that stretching helps you with? Comment below!