Stretching for BJJ

Stretching can positively impact your BJJ in many ways. In this article I break down the different benefits of stretching for BJJ and the best stretching routine and exercises for BJJ. I also try to answer some questions you might have, such as when you should stretch, how long you should stretch, whether you should stretch statically or dynamically and whether you can stretch too much.

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching can increase mobility, which is helpful in various BJJ positions – most notably guard positions. Lachlan Giles breaks down which the most important mobilities for BJJ players in the video below.

Other benefits of stretching

Sadly, other commonly cited benefits of stretching such as reduced risk of injury and better recovery don’t seem to be backed up by science. You can read more about these topics here and here.

Best BJJ Stretching Exercise Routine

So we’ve established that stretching can help improve your BJJ – but what are the most important stretching exercises for the BJJ athlete?

BJJ Specific stretches for mobility

In a follow up to the video above where Lachlan Giles explains which ranges of motion are applicable to BJJ, he made this video in which he shares a nice and simple routine that you can follow along with him. (I always skip the internal hip rotation one against the wall because it doesn’t feel healthy for my knee!)

A more holistic approach: Yoga for BJJ

Like I pointed out earlier, there’s no evidence that stretching in and of itself leads to better recovery or decreased risk of injury, or any other advantageous health outcome.

However, in the trailer for his website YogaForBJJ Sebastian Brosche claims yoga can lead to all these health outcomes. Can we square these two facts?

I think we can, because yoga doesn’t merely work on your flexibility. It also improves the strength in both your major muscles and the minor stabilizing muscles that you don’t normally train. And contrary to mere stretching, yoga is a form of mild cardiovascular exercise, which is good for recovery.

Best way to stretch for BJJ

Given that stretching can help your BJJ you may wonder how long you should stretch, whether you should stretch before or after training, and whether you should stretch statically or dynamically.

Unfortunately, scientific research towards the best ways to stretch is already few and far between for the general population – let alone for the BJJ population specifically. Studies seem to show that long term, any stretching routine produces results. And if you stretch more, you’ll see more results. So if you need and answer I’ll tell you to do Lachlan Giles’ video once per day – but any other routine will serve you fine too.

 

Cautionary Tale: Don't stretch like Eddie Bravo

Before I leave I feel like I need to share a story. A friend of mine that I used to train with got deep into 10th Planet jiu jitsu and was watching all of their video’s related to stretching and flexibility. In particular I think he might have seen this video:

This friend of mine started to stretch religiously every day, until he tore his own MCL whilst attempting the buggy choke. He himself is sure that this happens because he stretched way too much and too hard in the period leading up to that. So although work ethic is important, please remember that you can also stretch too much!