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Why Warm-Ups are Important in BJJ

We know, you're an experienced grappler and you like to roll a lot. You think warm ups are stupid because instead of running around the mat you would rather be drilling live or rolling, right?

Wrong. Muscle activation is a real thing, that helps in many ways to strengthen and correct muscular imbalances. But wait, you want to roll forever right? Longevity is as much of an art as the pajama scramble, and it only comes to those who take the extra time to ensure it.

Back injuries are the most common problem in our sport, caused by poor posture during the day, and the absence of the proper muscles doing their share of the work. Our posture in jiu jitsu can compound this problem, especially if your dominantly a guard player or love the berimbolo or rubber guard or just get stacked a lot.

Remember when we had to hunt and forage all day to stay alive, no me neither, and that’s why our bodies are out of whack. Think about it, we're messed up before we even start jiu jitsu. We lay in a bed too soft, sit hunched over a desk all day and then drive home and sit more. This creates what is called an anterior dominant posture, where the tailbone is rolled under and the neck shoots forward. Anterior dominant posture causes a number of problems physically and its highlighted in jiu jitsu class but with much more strain on ligaments, bones, and muscles. Basically, you're posture sucks all day and during jiu jitsu your making it worse.

After 15 years of jiu jitsu, in addition to many years of wrestling before, one thing has stayed the test of time. That is, the hips love to take over in this situation. The hips bully the posterior chain making it hard to maintain good posture and usually makes relaxing and sleep quality hard to maintain. Rest and quality sleep are an essential part of recovery. This postural imbalance can often lead to sciatic pain due to pinched nerves along the hips and makes rolling not as fun.

An easy way to avoid this is to add a posterior chain exercise to your warmup routine before class and workouts. Being conscience and maintaining good posture throughout the day will help as well. The goal is for the glutes and lower back muscles to fire throughout all of your lower body exercises; this makes the muscles stronger and allows them to act as a support for your core and legs. I also like to use a yoga tune up ball to release the muscles and break up fascia that keeps the muscles too connected. Fascia can cause the muscles to stick together which decreases their ability to function independently and with full contraction.

It's funny, if the instructor had told me when I signed up for jiu jitsu all those years ago, that I would have to learn physical therapy, yoga, mobility, strength training, meditation, and nutrition, I would have laughed. What started as a way for me to stay on the mat and compete well, has led me to seeking the best knowledge in all of them. I’ve been very lucky to be exposed to the experts in these areas, always trying to learn new techniques or methodologies. I do this not only to be my best, but to support my team and be there as a source of strength and knowledge for them. I share my knowledge so they won't make some of the same mistakes that hindered my growth along the way.

My love for jiu jitsu, the people it has surrounded me with, the opportunities I've had, and the deep reflection it has caused is worth more to me now that I could have ever fathomed as an 18yr old white belt. What I'm saying is, if you're passionate about staying on the mat and creating a practice of longevity, you too will have to seek out ways to stay healthy, physically and mentally. Becoming well Balanced is the path of the warrior. Below I've put a link for a prehab\rehab routine, taught by our very own Shelby Williams. This is a great addition to do throughout the day as well as before and, if needed, after class. Give it a try and good luck on your journey.

-Thomas Williams

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