Stretching to Improve Flexibility for MMA and Jiu-Jitsu 🧘🥋

Some may say that fitness is a form of self-care, but I’d like to keep things simple and instead call it a discipline. To quote Jocko Willink, “Discipline equals freedom,” and I couldn’t agree more. Flexibility for MMA and Jiu-Jitsu cannot be ignored if you want to progress.

It is also one of the most challenging goals to achieve for many people. Hitting the gym takes a lot of motivation. Often, this motivation deteriorates when we receive validation from our peers or whenever we hit our arbitrary powerlifting goals. You may bump up the motivation temporarily by purchasing a new pair of MMA shoes, or a nice shiny new mouth guard, or a gym bag, but this won’t last.

Whether you have two plates on the bar, triple bodyweight deadlifts, or a nice low-bar squat, your passion for lifting becomes bloated and subsides.

The weights are passive, they don’t fight back, and we find that we need new challenges to overcome the monotony of the weight room.

Fitness To Diet is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Enter Combat Sports

Until recent decades, martial arts were primarily viewed as tools for combat and self-defense. However, this quest for alternative ways to stay fit has played a pivotal role in establishing martial arts as a sport.

There are many health benefits associated with martial arts. Other than helping people lose weight and achieve their fitness goals, martial arts also improves concentration, focus, athleticism, and upgrades your confidence.

In recent years, two martial art forms have especially resonated with those seeking to improve themselves: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.

What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its origin in Judo and Japanese Jujutsu. Depending on which sources you use, Geo Omori opened Brazil’s first Jiu-jitsu school somewhere between 1925 to 1931.

However, it is the Gracie family that is given credit for inventing the current-day Brazilian jiu-jitsu. BJJ focuses on the art of controlling one’s opponent through the use of grappling and ground fighting techniques. The final aim is to make one’s opponent submit.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is often also referred to as a “gentle art” as the various methods used in this martial art form allow even a weak and small person to engage with bigger and stronger opponents.

Moreover, this martial art form can be practiced by men, women as well as children, and in recent years, it has gained immense popularity with new classes being offered internationally.

Traditional BJJ requires the use of a gi. Still, no-gi jiu-jitsu has emerged through pioneering individuals such as Eddie Bravo, inventor of groundbreaking moves such as ‘the twister’ and the ‘rubber guard.’

What is MMA?

MMA, also known as mixed martial arts, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. MMA takes inspiration from several combat sports, such as Thai boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and judo.

It also borrows from various Olympic sports, such as freestyle wrestling, Tae Kwan Do, karate, boxing, etc. MMA became popular after the 1993 show ‘The Ultimate Fighting Championship’ hit the American television sets. Thus, many people confuse MMA with UFC.

MMA is a total body hand to hand combat system that burns more calories when packaged into a workout than most forms of exercise. Other than promoting physical fitness, it also promotes mental and spiritual health.

This attractive combination of ‘athletic mindfulness’ and real competition is why an increasing number of gym members are switching to MMA to achieve their fitness goals.

The Importance of Stretching in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA

mma 2495822 1920

If you have recently moved to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, you will appreciate the importance of flexibility and regular stretching. While performing various martial art forms and combat sports, it is imperative to be flexible.

Flexibility not only protects athletes from injuries but also allows them to reach their potential. During stretching, the body works to repair the microscopic tears present in the various muscles. Thus, stretching keeps the body muscles strong and healthy.

There are two different kinds of stretching that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA practitioners must do: Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching. Let us study the difference between both.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching refers to the process of stretching the muscles through motion. Thus, dynamic stretches are functional. Most dynamic stretches mimic the activity or sport the performer is about to perform. For instance, light shadow kickboxing.

While light shadow kickboxing, MMA practitioners perform kicks and punches as well as indulge in other activities that elongate the muscles in the knees and elbows. Thus, dynamic stretching is important as it activates the group of muscles to be used in the sport you are about to perform.

Dynamic stretches are especially helpful right before you are about to play a sport. Several studies have studied and established the effectiveness of dynamic stretches for athletes.

These exercises are also beneficial before heavy weightlifting as they help improve muscle extension and performance. When aiming to prevent injuries by developing long term flexibility, dynamic stretching is effective without compromising workout performance.

However, it should be noted that dynamic stretching does not acutely prevent injuries for the subsequent workout, and flexibility can be improved through strength training as well.

This can seem contradictory at first, but there appears to be a cumulative effect on stretching, and that is where the main benefits reside.

Static Stretching

Static stretches are ideally used to cool down the body after a rigorous MMA or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu session. Static stretches involve stretching a muscle to a specific position and then holding the muscle in that position for a short while.

This short while is usually any time between 10 to 30 seconds. In most cases, 3 to 5 sets are recommended. Though static stretches are a great way to cool off the body, they are generally considered to be less effective than dynamic stretches in terms of improving flexibility.

Static stretching is effective at improving your range of motion (ROM) and has recently been shown to enhance muscle hypertrophy when stretching between weight training sets.

AmazeFan Leg Stretcher, 3 Bar Leg Split Stretching Machine, Flexibility Stretching Equipment for Ballet, Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts, MMA, Home Gym Exercise(2020 Upgrade)
954 Reviews
AmazeFan Leg Stretcher, 3 Bar Leg Split Stretching Machine, Flexibility Stretching Equipment for Ballet, Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts, MMA, Home Gym Exercise(2020 Upgrade)
  • ☆【Easy and Effective & Develops Flexibility and Balance 】--- Flexibility is described as the complete range of motion.You will be able to do daily chores effortlessly once your flexibility improves. The muscles in your legs will improve to make your range of motion wide and swift. AmazeFan Leg Stretcher is good for people who needs maximum leg flexibility, help you spread your legs as far as possible and stretch your hamstrings without requiring help from a partner.
  • ☆【High-Quality Square Stainless Steel】--- AmazeFan Leg Split Stretcher is made of High-quality square stainless steel.Anti-rust and corrosion resistance.The head of our leg stretcher is made of thick steel plate, stable and sturdy.Also with the High-strength wear resistant thick sponge, will not damage the floor.
  • ☆【6 Speed Adjustable & Comfortable Non-slip Handle】--- 6 speed adjustable split device offer a full range of stretching. Each pole has six holes that you adjust to find the perfect, comfortable stretching length level or increase it to get a deeper stretch. The comfortable Non-slip Handle is air permeability and abrasion resistance. It creates a comfortable grip for manipulating the stretcher and a comfortable resting point on your feet, ankles for increasing your stretch.

4 Dynamic Stretches to Improve Flexibility for MMA and Jiu-Jitsu

Dynamic Hamstring Stretches

To perform a dynamic hamstring stretch, extend your arms in front of you to their fullest length. Next, slowly swing your right foot in an upward motion and try to kick your hand.

Bring down the right foot and repeat the movement with your left foot. If you want to make your dynamic stretches more robust, you can perform this exercise while walking.

Rolling Foam Stretches

The rolling foam stretch is one of the most effective stretches for MMA practitioners. To perform this exercise, sit on the ground and place a foam roller under both of your hamstrings.

Next, stabilize your upper body on your hands and push all your bodyweight into your legs. Once in the described position, roll back and forth on the foam using your hands.

This stretch is perfect for MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu performers as it improves circulation in the body and helps repair any scars or injuries in tissues and muscles.

Dynamic Arm Swings

Extend your arms in front of you and walk forward while swinging your arms. If your left arm is reaching your chest, the right arm should extend fully on the side. While walking forward, remember to keep your torso straight.

The only movement in your upper body should be in the shoulder joints. Keep reversing the direction and repeat the exercise five times on each side.

Dynamic Lower Back Stretches

The Lattissimus Dorsi is a big muscle group that must be stretched using varying shoulder movements. It is crucial for enhancing MMA and BJJ flexibility.

Dynamic lower back stretches are a good exercise for your lower back. Stand straight. Next, lunge your right foot forward and simultaneously, drop your left knee to the ground.

Once on the ground, place both your hands down, palms facing downward. Next, move your right hand upward towards the ceiling and turn your body to the right. Come back to the original position and repeat.

4 Static Stretches to Improve Flexibility for MMA and Jiu-Jitsu

Static Hamstring Stretches

Place your foot on a raised object. The height of the object should match your hip height. Next, pressing down your opposite thigh, bend the opposite knee and lower down your hips like you are about to sit in a chair. Repeat on the other side.

Static Calf Stretches

The downward dog makes an ideal static calf stretch. Place your body in a high plank position. Your hands must be directly underneath your shoulders.

Next, aim to create a V-shape by shifting your body’s weight to your butt. Press your heels into the ground. The more your heels are close to the ground, the stronger the stretch will be.

Scorpion Stretch

To perform this stretch, lie down flat on the ground with your face facing downward. Next, stretch out your arms in front of you. Your palms should face downwards.

Raise your right leg and try to bring it to the left side of your lower back. Using your hands to hold the ankle, try to press the heel towards your butt. Hold for 5-10 seconds.

Bring the leg back to its original position and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Assisted Reverse Stretch

To perform this stretch, you will need a table or any other object to provide support. Stand with your back facing the table. Next, place your hands on the edge of the table and try to lower your body while bending your arms slowly.

Hold the position for about ten seconds and then come back to the original place. Repeat for a few times.

For more warm-up and stretching techniques, check out the video from multiple black belt MMA athlete, Stephen Thompson, below 👇

Putting It All Together

Gym members around the world have embraced both MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as excellent fitness programs. The effectiveness of these combat sports in promoting physical and mental well-being cannot be debated.

However, both of these alternative exercise methods involve rigorous and strenuous movements, which can easily lead to injuries. It is, therefore, of utmost importance for practitioners of these forms to warm up and cool down before and after their training sessions.

Dynamic stretches are an ideal way to prepare the body for the upcoming workout to improve performance, and static stretches are a great way to cool down while increasing the static range of motion.

AmazeFan Leg Stretcher, 3 Bar Leg Split Stretching Machine, Flexibility Stretching Equipment for Ballet, Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts, MMA, Home Gym Exercise(2020 Upgrade)
954 Reviews
AmazeFan Leg Stretcher, 3 Bar Leg Split Stretching Machine, Flexibility Stretching Equipment for Ballet, Yoga, Dance, Martial Arts, MMA, Home Gym Exercise(2020 Upgrade)
  • ☆【Easy and Effective & Develops Flexibility and Balance 】--- Flexibility is described as the complete range of motion.You will be able to do daily chores effortlessly once your flexibility improves. The muscles in your legs will improve to make your range of motion wide and swift. AmazeFan Leg Stretcher is good for people who needs maximum leg flexibility, help you spread your legs as far as possible and stretch your hamstrings without requiring help from a partner.
  • ☆【High-Quality Square Stainless Steel】--- AmazeFan Leg Split Stretcher is made of High-quality square stainless steel.Anti-rust and corrosion resistance.The head of our leg stretcher is made of thick steel plate, stable and sturdy.Also with the High-strength wear resistant thick sponge, will not damage the floor.
  • ☆【6 Speed Adjustable & Comfortable Non-slip Handle】--- 6 speed adjustable split device offer a full range of stretching. Each pole has six holes that you adjust to find the perfect, comfortable stretching length level or increase it to get a deeper stretch. The comfortable Non-slip Handle is air permeability and abrasion resistance. It creates a comfortable grip for manipulating the stretcher and a comfortable resting point on your feet, ankles for increasing your stretch.

FAQs

How can I improve my Jiu Jitsu flexibility?

Use a combination of dynamic and static stretches before and after training respectively. Not only this, but you must stay consistent with your routine – that is the most important element of continuous improvement of your flexibility and range of motion.

Some of the tightest muscle groups for Jiu-Jitsu are often the hips, the hamstrings, and the lower back. Ensure you focus on the tightest areas for you.

An easy way to develop this habit is to stretch for 20 minutes immediately after a Jiu-Jitsu class, this is because your body is already warm, at peak flexibility, and a optimum for muscle recovery.

How do I become more flexible for MMA?

MMA flexibility is very similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You must be consistent in your approach, and ensure you create systems that help your form the right habits to achieve your flexibility goal.

Your range of motion is at its highest after a class, therefore you should start by concentrating on at least 20 minutes of full-body stretching after exercise. Often post-workout stretching is overlooked. Ensure you include important and large muscle groups such as the shoulders and hamstrings in your stretching exercises.

It may help to have an app such as Down Dog which is great for customizing your stretching routine by body part, length of time, and intensity.

Can stretching improve your flexibility?

Stretching will without a doubt improve your flexibility. Stretching your muscles for 20-30 second holds will elongate the muscle temporarily giving you an increased range of motion and therefore a greater ability to move into different positions.

This is especially advantageous for MMA and Jiu-Jitsu as it allows you to become more efficient with your techniques. For example, if you can more easily sneak a butterfly hook in from guard you have a greater advantage than someone who lacks the mobility to do that.

How long should a stretch be held to improve flexibility?

The optimum length of time to hold a stretch is 15-30 seconds according to the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. As one gets older, however, this length of time can be increased to 60 seconds.

For most athletes, you should aim for 30 seconds to tap into the maximum amount of benefits for that stretch, and ensure you don’t bounce as you do the stretch – this will reduce the risk of injury. Slowly move into the position, breathing slowly and deeply as you do, and feel the muscles being worked on.

Do you need to be flexible for Jiu Jitsu?

Flexibility will provide you with an advantage over your opponents in Jiu-Jitsu, so it will help. However, you do not need to be flexible if you’re just starting out, your flexibility will increase over time naturally as you train. Be sure to stretch after all of your exercises, working your head, neck, spine, and any sore muscles you have.

There are also variations to techniques for those less mobile than can be used as alternatives too.

Does yoga help Jiu Jitsu?

Yoga invariably helps your Jiu-Jitsu game. Yoga is ultimately the art of moving through positions in a controlled and conscious manner. It involves a high degree of stretching throughout and depending on the style of Yoga, you’ll target plenty of muscle groups through all the different exercises throughout your practice.

Yoga is a great way to open up your tight chest, rigid spine, and even muscles in your head. The neck and spine in Jiu-Jitsu take quite a beating and overtime tightness can cause longer-term issues. By regularly stretching through a Yoga practice you can alleviate these problems. As you’ll know, the head, neck, spine, and chest are critical to a good Jiu-Jitsu game.