For all of the BJJ players out there, especially those back chasers, you can have days on the mats where incessant grip fighting burns your arms and specifically your forearms out. This post and video focuses on some BJJ stretches you can use to cool down not only your muscular system, but to cue the nervous system to bring the entire body into a more relaxed state fit for recovery.
I personally enjoy this series after a hard day of training where my body has really closed off and tightened. Chasing backs and keeping my body protected will cause this. These stretches are great for unwinding the tightness. Your forearms will scream at you as you begin to open them!!!
Universal BJJ Stretching Cues
We will start with some universal cues that go for all of these BJJ stretches in this series as well as some universal advice for stretching and cooling down in general. We must first focus on the poisoning of the shoulders. Don't be so caught up in getting the wrist stretch that you compromise your shoulder position, especially in the first two poses.
Begin with shoulders down and away from ears. This is a must for daily living to keep our bodies cued for relaxation instead of stress. A rule of thumb is that if your shoulders are raised near ears you are in a stressed or fight or flight state.
Always remember to have a relaxed and even breath coming from the lower belly. Especially after a tough training session this will be difficult and will likely be difficult anyway. Be kind to yourself and follow the specific cues. I cover below This will become easier quickly if you focus on the correct cues. By short sighting yourself to rushing and get to the "perfect" end goal of the stretch will actually hold yourself back. Seeking so hard to obtain the end posture will actually cause the position to allude your grasp.
With all of these stretches we're grooving neural patterns and communicating to our muscles via the nervous system and breath. This requires a relaxed demeanor. Cuing a long slow breath through our lower belly will begin to help us communicate the down regulation response to our body.
Why downregulation is important
Grappling is a stressful to your nervous system making downregulating and relaxing a must. Cuing this through deep low belly breathing and stretching regardless after training of will go a long way in calming down our nervous system. It will us to get a great feedback cycle of rest and recovery so we can have another great training session. Also learning to be more conscious of a breath that facilitates a relaxed response in the body will carry over into us being more relaxed and detached during rolling.
Wrist flexors stretch
Crossing one arm on top of the other
Open palm of top arm
Use other hand to grab and extend hand open
If you can't reach hand simply hold position with elbows stacked over one another!
Wrist Extensors Stretch
Transitioning from last pose, simply flip stretching hand over to lengthen the other side of your forearm that's responsible for wrist extension
Shoulder Internal Rotation
Rotate shoulder internally and seek to bring it near oblique meets the serratus (muscle beneath armpit into ribcage)
Use opposite hand to pull across
Should feel stretch on pinky side of hand and into forearm
Circle wrists while keeping elbows straight and shoulders down and away from ears (engaged lats and serratus, front felt and chest turned off as much as possible)
Arms in front
Push away with fingertips
Slightly curl back
Focus on extending elbows
Clasp hands behind back
Shoulders pinched together and extending to where elbow pits face forward
Shoulders away from ears!
Lift chest and chin
Should feel opening running from chest to fingertips
Add these BJJ stretches to your routine and you will feel a difference in not only your muscles, but you should feel more calm and relaxed after training. Something I will cover more at a later time, but by lengthening our muscles we are allowing them to have their full capability of strength and power. In order to contract and create large amounts of force we must be able to lengthen first. And since most of us BJJ guys are more on the contacted side of the continuum it's good way to balance ourselves out. Let me know how this goes!
FOUNDATIONAL EXERCISES FOR COMPETITIVE ATHLETES AND SUSTAINED TRAINING