Good flexibility is an important component of peak athletic performance. Poor flexibility, on the other hand, impedes performance. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is an excellent way to improve flexibility. A flexible body offers a number of benefits in daily life, including enhanced aerobic performance and muscular conditioning. In addition, flexibility keeps the muscles long and pliable, making common tasks such as bending and squatting easier. Below are some of the ways that BJJ improves flexibility.
1) Warm-Ups And Conditioning
BJJ classes typically begin with a warm-up that combines both cardiovascular exercises and stretches. While the main purpose of warming up is to get the muscles loose before engaging in strenuous physical activity, it has the added benefit of improving flexibility over time. In fact, most students are pleasantly surprised to find that their flexibility has improved greatly within just a few short months of starting BJJ. Typical BJJ warm-ups include:
- Hip escapes
- Trunk twists
- Break falls
- Technical standups
- Toe touches
- Alligator crawls
- Yoga poses
2) Body Awareness
BJJ promotes body awareness, which in turn helps practitioners identify areas of the body that are stiff and inflexible. When a BJJ student has trouble performing a certain movement, he or she must attempt to determine the reason for the deficiency. Part of this process involves identifying whether any personal physical limitations are preventing the performance of the movement in question. Following the identification of these limitations, students can then begin devoting additional time to their improvement. Often, inflexibility is an impediment to the performance of certain BJJ movements. When inflexibility in a specific part of the body is identified as the reason for a student’s inability to perform in the way that he or she desires, the student usually takes steps to address the problem. This process, when repeated for multiple techniques and movements, gradually results in greater overall flexibility.
3) BJJ-Specific Movements
Many BJJ movements force the body to stretch in ways that are uncommon in daily life, leading to flexibility in areas that aren’t usually targeted by traditional stretching exercises. The hip escape, for example, in addition to stretching the arms, legs, and hips, stretches the back in a manner that is unlikely to occur in day-to-day life. The repeated performance of the hip escape, combined with proper rest, recovery, and nutrition, can lead to an increase in overall back flexibility and health. Another set of BJJ movements that stretch parts of the body typically left unused are those used in inverted techniques. Inverted techniques, which require the student to turn his or her body upside down, primarily stretch the back, neck, and hamstrings.
4) BJJ Often Leads To Supplemental Training
Many students who train BJJ participate in other physical activities to supplement their training. This is one of the many healthy side effects of BJJ: it often leads to additional physical activities. A common activity practiced by BJJ students is yoga. Yoga, which is comprised of a series of poses, is an excellent complement to BJJ. And as anyone familiar with yoga will tell you, it is a surefire way to rapidly improve flexibility. One yoga pose favored by BJJ students is downward-facing dog. Here’s how it’s done:
1) From your hands and knees, align your wrists under your shoulders. Next, align your knees under your hips. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
2) Spread your fingers and press your weight downward through your palms. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly across your hands.
3) Tuck your toes and lift your knees from the floor. Exhale as you do this.
4) Point your pelvis toward the ceiling, and slowly begin to straighten your legs. However, don’t lock your knees as you do this. Form your body into an “A” shape. Make sure you don’t walk your feet toward your hands as you do this, as it will limit the effectiveness of the stretch.
5) Lift your pelvis as you press your hands away from you into the floor.
6) Lengthen your spine, and lift your buttocks toward the ceiling. As you do this, press equally through the palms of your hands and your heels.
7) Flex your arm muscles and press your index fingers into the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades into your upper back and toward your tailbone.
8) As you continue to press the floor away from you, draw your chest toward your thighs, lengthening your spine.
9) Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your buttocks towards the ceiling. Press your heels toward the floor as you do this.
10) Keeping your head relaxed, align your ears with the top of your arms. From this position, you should be looking between your legs or toward your navel.
11) Hold this pose for as long as is comfortable while focusing on the stretch.
12) To release the pose, breathe out, bend your knees slowly, and return to the starting position.
Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life!
Are you ready to get in the best shape of your life? BJJ has many physical benefits, including increased flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance, making it an ideal activity for anyone looking to tone up and get healthy! In addition to these physical benefits, BJJ is a fun hobby that teaches students self-defense while offering the opportunity to participate in both grappling and MMA competitions. There’s no better time than now to take advantage of the multiple benefits BJJ has to offer, so give it a try! Contact us today for a complimentary trial class!
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