This article was written by health and fitness blogger Jake Willhoite from HealthListed.com
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu demands an insane amount of flexibility and without it, you can get injured all the time. And remember, no one can improve while injured...
Stretching is one of the efficient ways to prevent injuries. Habitual stretching boosts up your flexibility to better your techniques. It can also hasten your muscle’s recovery time and increase your strength. When you stretch regularly, you are keeping both your muscles and ligaments flexible. Benefits such as improved blood flow and reduced stress on joints occur too.
These 5 injury prevention stretches will step up your game with stronger muscles and improved flexibility!
1. Neck and Torso Stretch
There are 13 muscles that connect to the neck for proper functioning. These include the muscles of your head, shoulders, and upper back. So you wouldn’t want to damage your neck unless you want pain spread throughout those 13 muscles.
One of the injuries that can put you out of commission for a long time is a neck injury. It is known for its constant and severe pain. The Neck and Torso Stretch is a potent stretch in avoiding injuries and can even strengthen muscles that are linked to your neck.
The first step in doing this stretch is to lie on your back with your arms to your sides. Then, inhale and slowly lift your feet raising your legs to 90 degrees. Next, slowly lift your lower back and continue to move your feet above your head until your toes touch the ground. Stay in this position for a minute then softly move your legs forward returning it to its normal position.
Remember to keep your legs straight and together as you lift them. If you find it hard to do this stretch, you can use your hands as support for your lower back.
2. L-Arm Stretch
Shoulders are one of the most commonly damaged areas when playing BJJ. Tight shoulders can retain you from moving freely and can even cause pain or stiffness.
Shoulder issues can result in aches and restrictions in other body parts, even in your neck and spine. Strains on your shoulder may take up to 8 weeks to heal, while other shoulder injuries take longer and vary by degree of damage.
The L-Arm Stretch focuses on more than just preventing injuries, it also helps reduce back and neck pain and improves your posture.
This stretch is done by lying on your stomach with one arm to your side. Then, begin to stretch your arm with your palm facing up across your chest. Do not let your shoulder shrug up toward your ear too much.
Next, using your shoulder’s muscles, pull your chest down toward the floor. Move in and out of the position and then hold. Once you find a comfortable spot, move in and out of the stretch once again for 10 times then hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
3. Lying Half Spinal Twist
The spine is a structure composed of muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons. It carries the weight of the body and moves side-to-side and front to back. That is why it is good to keep all of its parts working and in good condition.
Try this stretch to grant your spine more flexibility. When you perform this stretch, you are lengthening your spine and getting space between the bones so that your energy can flow better.
In order to do this, lie on your back and stretch your arms open to your sides while your legs are together. Then lift your legs and fold them to your right side. With your right hand, grab your left calf and slide it closer to your shoulder. Keep your shoulders on the mat and turn your head to the left, hold this position for 10-20 seconds. Repeat this process for both legs.
4. Butterfly Stretch
Your hips are the center of your body’s movement. And a healthy, less restricted hip can equal potential for strength, power, and athleticism. Tight hips can cause lower back pain and knee problems. They also get in the way of your techniques and improvement.
The Butterfly stretch will help loosen your hips for less pain and better performance. This focuses on improving the flexibility of your groin and hip region.
Simply sit on the floor, straighten your spine and legs then grab your ankles. After, bend your legs while pulling your ankles toward your pelvis. When your feet touch, pull them closer, and stop when you feel uncomfortable. Now, grab your ankles and rest your elbows on your knees. Then press your knees downward with your elbows.
5. Rolling Up Onto the Toes
In order to withstand the pressure of holding a tight guard position in BJJ, you need very strong ankles. Your feet and ankles are important since their bones are connected to your leg bone. And even though our calves give us the power to stand on our toes, the ankles provide stability in bigger movements.
According to this paper, 30 percent of the most common injury locations were to the foot and ankle. If your foot and ankle muscles are too weak to support, your body will increase tension in the bigger muscles causing tightness in your calf and ankle.
Start this stretch method with a lunge position, one foot in front, one foot behind. Then, roll forward as far as you can go so that you’re up on the toes of your front foot. Start to roll your toes in position and make sure to do this on both sides. About 5-8 reps for 3 sets is enough. If you’re having a hard time you can always use your hands for support.
Stretching is good for your muscles, but too much of anything can give out a bad result. While it is normal to stretch once or twice a day, excessive stretching can lead to a strain or even a tear in your muscles so build up your stretching routine slowly over time.