If you train in BJJ, I think you’d understand that injuries and pain can be a common detriment in this sport. The problem is that the fascia system is commonly ignored for injury prevention, athletic performance, and recovery. In this article, I am going to show you why this system is crucial for relieving pain, optimizing posture and improving athletic ability as a martial artist, MMA fighter, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner.
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What Is The Fascia Tissue?
The fascia tissue is a group of connective tissue found beneath the skin that functions as a stabilizer for muscles and internal organs. It is similar to ligaments and tendons as it is also primarily made out of collagen. The main difference is in the function and location. Tendons join bones to muscles, ligaments connect a bone to another bone and fascia covers and supports muscles and other important structures.
An Example of Fascia Is The Rectus Sheath
The function of fascia is to reduce friction between muscle activity. Fasciae create a supportive shield for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through muscles. This is important because if your fascia is too tight, it can cause adhesion, muscle imbalances, poor posture, pain, stiffness, and a lack of mobility.
This Is A Common Cause of BJJ Pain
Pain from Brazilian jiu-jitsu shouldn’t be anything surprising considering it is a combat sport. However, this common cause of BJJ pain can be avoided when knowing how to utilize the state of flow as well as knowing how to break up fascia knots and relax tight tissue after training. This fascia tightness from overtraining or repetitive activity can be the source of your muscle imbalances and pain. Addressing it can relieve your BJJ pain and allow for better performance on the mats.
Should Combat Sports Athletes and BJJ Practitioners and MMA Fighters Be Concerned About This?
Simply put, yes. This is especially true if you are looking to compete or live your best life pain and physical stress-free. Due to the nature of repetition and drilling a technique, combat sports athletes such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners or MMA fighters and grapplers can often find themselves with a considerable amount of adhesions.
Membranous surfaces begin to pile up causing discomfort after inflammation appears from an injury or repetitive training in one particular location. Breaking this pile-up can be painful at the moment, but from personal experience, it can be a game-changer when it comes to performing optimally on the mats.
How To Fix The Fascia System For Better BJJ Performance
Now that you know what the fascia system is and how important a healthy one is for BJJ and MMA training, you might want to know some effective strategies to optimize its supportive function. Utilize these options below when you feel sore, fatigue, muscle pain, or fascia tightness and stiffness. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found any benefits from trying them yourself.
Foam Roller and Massage Ball
There are a few ways to fix the fascia system for better BJJ performance. The most common method is to use a foam roller or massage ball to apply pressure in tight fascia areas to release the tension. This can be painful but worth it. Brazilian jiu-jitsu involves many different body movements and having the ability to remove any hindrances in fascia tissue can dramatically aid in this problem. (1)
Stretching Practices and Yoga For BJJ
Stretching can be a great way to loosen tight muscles and fascia tissue. It's a great rest day recovery activity along with yoga. BJJ training and poor posture can often compress the spine and cause stress within the fascia tissue. Combining these two practices can help release tension in inflamed areas of your body. Yoga for BJJ has a lot of great resources for this type of bodywork. (2)
Seek Aid From Chiropractic Massage Professionals and Physical Therapists
Deep tissue work can be useful if you are having trouble breaking up the adhesions on your own. Although it can be a little pricier, it can be very beneficial as these professionals know exactly where the inflamed areas are and how to address the issue promptly. Many professional fighters use this resource to ensure their bodies are functioning to their best abilities.
Foods That Helps Support Fascia Tissue
As mentioned above, fascia is primarily made out of collagen. As we age, our body’s levels of collagen unfortunately depreciate. Collagen is a substance that acts like glue within the body and helps keep everything in place. This is a common ingredient in many joint support supplements.
However, I found a BJJ lifestyle hack that allows you to gain all of collagen’s benefits plus more with this simple bone broth recipe. Bone broth is full of collagen and It can be slow-cooked throughout the week. It makes for a perfect post-workout recovery beverage and has honestly been one of the biggest breakthroughs for my training recovery regimes. I believe it has helped me prevent many injuries due to its enormous amounts of collagen and proteins. (3)
The Fascia Connection To Mobility
Athletic performance is often described through speed, strength, and conditioning. Athleticism however also encompasses mobility. Mobility can be defined as the ability to move freely and easily. In martial arts, this ability should not be ignored. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and other grappling sports can often involve the desire to control your opponents. But if you don’t have complete control over yourself, it can be difficult to control others.
So how does fascia relate to mobility? Fascia creates adhesions and inflammation which is one of the many symptoms of overtraining. This causes bundles of tissue that limits movement. This TedTalk video explains the detriment a poor functioning fascia can have on mobility.
Now that you know how to optimize your fascia system to prevent pain and discomfort, I highly suggest you check out these crucial areas of your life where you need structure an athlete written by Nattie Boss, a BJJ brown belt and performance coach. Staying hydrated is another great way to improve your fascia function. The problem is that many athletes and BJJ practitioners don’t know how to properly hydrate. That’s why I put together this helpful resource on important hydration tips for better performance both on and off the mats.