Should You Stretch Before BJJ Training?

Injuries can be a serious problem in Brazilian jiu jitsu. As a practitioner, I wanted to learn how to prevent them as much as I can. The first internal debate I had was should I stretch before BJJ training? In this article, we dive deep into the importance of a proper warm-up and if stretching is hurtful or helpful for martial arts and athletic performance. By the end of this helpful article, you will know what the best pre-workout routine is for you.

Man stretching in a black BJJ t-shirt

The Importance of Flexibility Training For Jiu Jitsu

Have you ever trained with someone so incredibly flexible that they open up new movements and submission escapes that you’ve never thought was possible before? Perhaps you know a jiu jitsu practitioner that is not very flexible and submits easily due to this problem. This can problem can be fixed with a consistent flexibility training program. However, timing your stretching regiment is important. There will be more information on this further down.

Flexibility is defined as the quality of bending easily without breaking. 

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a fun way to safely train how to accomplish breaking bones and tearing limbs in a controlled environment. Martial arts require many different aspects to become successful but it’s not difficult to see the benefits of being flexible when it comes to combat sports such as grappling.

Woman stretching in a black BJJ tank top

The Pros of Stretching For BJJ Athletes

  1. Easier to withstand tight submissions (Tap Out Now If You Need To!)
  2. Better range of motion, along with caring for the fascia system.
  3. Allows for more movement options leading to submissions.
  4. Improves posture and strength allowing for better techniques
  5. (Add more to this list in the comments below)

Why You Shouldn’t Stretch Before BJJ Training

Although stretching is a common way to improve athletic performance, it may not be the best time to do it immediately before BJJ training or any type of intense exercise for that matter. This can be a controversial and hot debate on the mats. That’s why these research-based studies should help you decide what the best way to prevent injuries is for you. 

It’s commonly believed that stretching before BJJ class can help prevent injuries, however, this study by Harvard suggests otherwise. Stretching before a workout, especially cold muscles can actually lead to injuries. There was also no evidence to suggest stretching prior to BJJ training will prevent muscle soreness either.

Lady Stretching after BJJ Training in a black Jiu Jitsu sweatshirt

Where does this training myth come from? Well, theoretically it makes sense. As mentioned earlier, stretching can help make muscles more pliable. However, this is where theory and evidence separate. 

When Should Jiu Jitsu Practitioners Stretch?

If you aren’t supposed to stretch before jiu jitsu class based on those studies, then what would be the best time? Personally, I enjoy a light stretching flow at the end of my workouts to help my body cool down and with muscles already warm, the risk of injury is lowered based on the information above. It is important to notify that more studies are needed to conclude if stretching after jiu jitsu classes will help prevent muscle soreness.

I’ve found benefits in my overall flexibility when stretching while in the sauna. Allow with many other benefits, this added light exercise can help BJJ athletes perform at their best if utilized with precaution and care. Learn more about the benefits of sauna use for jiu jitsu practitioners and MMA athletes.

Alternative Warm-Up To Static Stretching For BJJ

Although evidence lacks for stretching before BJJ as a preventative measure for injuries there is an alternative warm-up that can be done to prevent injuries. The Editor in Chief at Harvard Men's Health Watch suggests, “Try a brief warm-up to get the blood flowing to your major muscle groups and loosen your joints.”

For Brazilian jiu jitsu athletes, this can look like a light jog around the mats, followed by hip-escapes, get-ups or any other basic BJJ moves. Here is a video of some light exercises BJJ practitioners can utilize to optimize their warm-up routines to prevent injuries.

Solo BJJ Drills At Home Submitted By Jack McNeely

Jack is training in his limited edition Submission Shark BJJ Gi.

How To Improve Your Jiu Jitsu Experience

Martial arts journeys will vary depending on the individual but following similar protocols and guides will help you make the best out of your time on the mats. Whether you are a professional athlete or a hobbyist, the School of Sharks section is a great place to learn and connect with other martial artists. Knowing these simple tips can help you prevent painful situations such as overtraining as well as open your mind to various martial arts training philosophies.

The Flow State For MMA and BJJ

Utilizing the state of flow and knowing how to control your athletic output in the first 15 minutes of your jiu jitsu training session can also help to reduce the risk of injuries as you are allowing for better blood flow throughout the body. If you’d like to incorporate more sport-specific warm-ups to your training, this can be a great way to focus on the efficiency of your techniques as your muscles become ready for more intense parts of your workout.

Nattie Boss BJJ Training

Another helpful tip would be to structure your day as an athlete to plan for proper timing of stretching to improve this aspect of athletic performance. Submission Shark received some expert advice from Nattie Boss, a jiu jitsu brown belt that explained how to optimize workouts using the training undulation method.

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Submission Shark Jiu Jitsu Friends

If you found this article to be helpful, feel free to share this with your friends, family and training partners. Disagree with not static stretching before BJJ training? Let’s discuss in the comments below. I’d love to see your perspective on this common debate.

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