One of the keys to longevity and injury prevention in a sport like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is proper mobility and strengthening. Like they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If your joints are functioning correctly with a full range of movement, you're less likely to be injured. Simple as that.
Here's our top 5 exercises that you can add to your training regime in order to improve your range of movement. As always, shoot for progression and program properly. If there's a movement that is too advanced, progress up to it. Self improvement is the key!
#1 COSSACK SIDE LUNGE WITH KNEE DROP
The cossack side lunge is an advanced movement that you may need to program up to in order to complete a full rep. The low side lunge with knee drop strengthens and increases your mobility of your hips while simultaneously loosening up your hip flexors and knees by doing an internal rotation knee drop. (Video of Cobrinha demonstrating below #2...)
a) Do you have full mobility, but aren't ready to incorporate kettle bells? Start off with your body weight and slowly add in KBs as you progress.
b) Struggling with full ROM (range of movement)? Try this:
Once you build up mobility, advance to adding strength.
#2 PISTOL SQUATS
Your knees take a beating in BJJ. By strengthening your legs, you'll build up the surrounding muscles that protect your knees and ultimately prevent injuries.
A Judo instructor of mine that trained in Japan said whenever athletes had knee problems, the sensei would make them do a couple hundred bodyweight squats a day. They key here was strengthening the muscles supporting their knees.
Adding in a KB adds weight to increase the difficulty of stabilizing yourself.
a) Not enough strength? Start off with either two leg squat or use a wall/pole for assistance. Another option you can do is to box squat with a single leg until you build up the strength.
#3 SWIMMING SHOULDER MOBILITY DRILL
This is one of our favorite drills for warming up your shoulder capsules and increasing your shoulder mobility. Begin by lying on your stomach, rotating to your side and move your arms in a swimming motion as you gain ground on the mat. Use before you train as well to warm up.
#4 GRANBY ROLL
Getting comfortable being inverted and improving your lower back and neck mobility is key in BJJ. The best way to learn the granby is to start seated on the mat with your feet facing a wall. Then tuck your neck, roll onto your shoulders, while keeping your feet on the wall. Use your feet to 'walk' you onto your shoulders. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it without a wall as shown below:
#5 DOWNWARD DOG & UPWARD DOG
After doing a few granbys, it's always good to do a few downward dog & upward dog movements to improve the flexibility of your back. Here's a simple routine you can follow from Steve Maxwell:
Let us know in the comments how it goes. Got another movement we should recommend? Send it to us and we'll add more to this blog post!