Incorporating stretching into your BJJ routine is just as important as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training itself. It is one of the most important factors for preventing injuries, improving performance, and increasing range of motion.
But which Jiu Jitsu stretches should you do?
In this article, we’ll cover the best stretches for Jiu Jitsu practitioners, including BJJ stretching routines, mobility and flexibility exercises, hip mobility, warm-up stretches, and why and when to stretch.
We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Why you Should Stretch for Jiu Jitsu
We know stretching is the least favorite part of training for most athletes. However, if you are familiar with its countless benefits, there’s no way you can dismiss it.
We’ll make it short and sweet. Here’s what stretching can do for you as a Jiu Jitsu athlete:
- Enable you to use a variety of techniques that require mobility and flexibility:
Many BJJ techniques require great flexibility, especially in the hips. Examples are Gogoplatas, Buggy Chokes, and many 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu techniques. If you want to be a well-rounded BJJ athlete, flexibility is a must.
- Decrease risk of injury
This is often overlooked. Staying injury-free leads to more time on the mats. Therefore, stretching will allow you to train more frequently and make you a better athlete by decreasing the risk of injury.
- Promote longevity
This point goes hand in hand with the decreased risk of injury but it is worth mentioning separately. Keeping your body functional and pain-free should always be your number one priority. You will regret not taking care of yourself when you get older.
BJJ Warm-Up Stretches
It’s important to warm up before training to prevent injuries and improve performance. Make sure to check out our in-depth article on warming up for Jiu Jitsu as there is a lot to learn on the topic.
Warming up for Jiu Jitsu class will mostly consist of dynamic stretching. If you do dynamic stretches carefully without extensively pushing your range of motion, it not as taxing as static stretching. This makes it ideal for warming up as it has a lower risk of injury and preserves strength.
Here are some simple warm-up drills that make a great BJJ warm-up routine:
- Leg Swings (front to back): Do 20-30 jumping jacks to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up.
- Leg Swings (sideways): Stand in place and alternate lifting your knees as high as you can. Do this for 20-30 seconds.
- Squats: Squats are a great compound exercise for strength training, but they are also great for warming up for Jiu Jitsu class. Bodyweight squats will get your whole lower body moving and open up the hips, which is crucial for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
- Pidgeon Pose: The pigeon pose is one of the few static stretching exercises we recommend doing before BJJ training, as it mobilizes the hips. Just make sure to take it easy and listen to your body.
- Roll Backs: A motion that is very prevalent in Jiu Jitsu training, for example when being in closed guard. With this exercise, you can activate your core muscles and mobilize the neck and spine.
- Burpees: This exercise will get your heart rate up and mobilize your whole body, from the legs to the core as well as the shoulders and chest.
- Cobra Pose: Stretches the complete anterior chain.
- Mountain climbers: This exercise activates almost every muscle in your body, especially the core and shoulder muscles.
- Middle splits: Don’t worry if you can’t actually do the splits, most athletes can’t. Just go as far as your comfortably can. (You should always be pain-free! It is just a warm-up!)
The following image shows our complete BJJ warm up routine as described above:
Also check out our Jiu Jitsu Strength and Conditioning Routines in our dedicated article.
Optimal BJJ Stretching Routine
A good BJJ stretching routine should target all major muscle groups used in Jiu Jitsu. The long-term goal of a Jiu Jitsu stretching routine should be to enable the athlete to perform demanding BJJ techniques with ease and aid longevity.
Lu Strength & Therapy has shown a simple but effective BJJ stretching routine on his YouTube channel (shown in the video below). We added a few more Jiu Jitsu stretches we like most, so you get a list of stretches to choose from for your stretching routine:
- Hip Flexor Opener: Stretches the quadriceps and hip flexors which are constantly engaged in Jiu Jitsu.
- Butterfly Stretch: Stretches the adductors and hamstrings. It opens up the hips for all kinds of BJJ techniques.
- Pancake Stretch: Stretches the whole posterior chain, especially the adductors and hamstrings.
- Pigeon Pose: Mainly stretches the hips, glutes, and hip flexors. It is on of our favorite stretching positions for BJJ.
- Seated Hip Twist Stretch: This position stretches the hips, glutes, and back muscles. It is great to relieve tension and pain.
- Hip Internal Rotation Stretch: Stretches the hips and glutes for internal rotation.
- Child’s Pose: Stretches the lats, and glutes, and mobilizes the spine. It is an easy stretch that feels great, not only for Jiu Jitsu athletes but also for anyone that sits at a desk a lot.
- Frog Stretch: Another very easy stretching position that stretches the adductors, which are crucial for BJJ.
- Crossover Stretch: This stretching position is very comfortable as it releases a lot of pain and tension from the lower back and glutes.
- Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you or stand with your legs straight. Reach forward with your hands towards your toes, keeping your knees straight.
- Quad Stretch: Stand up straight and grab your ankle with one hand. Pull your heel towards your glutes and hold.
- Neck Stretch: Stand up straight and tilt your head towards one shoulder. Use your hand to gently pull your head further in that direction.
Hold static stretches for about 30 seconds before easing up. Doing a stretching routine regularly is essential for BJJ athletes to maintain optimal flexibility and mobility.
Jiu Jitsu Mobility and Flexibility Tools
Don’t let anyone tell you that you need expensive gear to become flexible for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!
And again, if you decide to get one of these (which you should), they don’t have to be expensive. The products below are cheap and do the job.
When to Do Jiu Jitsu Stretching
Now, we have already established that stretching is an important part of any Jiu Jitsu training routine, but it’s also important to know when to stretch to stay safe and reap the most benefits.
There are only a few rules to consider when stretching for any sport. Let’s break down how to design stretching routines in different parts of the day:
- Warm up first: Always do some light cardio or movement before stretching to get your blood flowing and prepare your muscles for the work ahead. Gentle dynamic stretching can be part of your warm-up.
- Before training: This is your warm up routine like the one we suggested above. You should keep it light as it is not meant to yield permanent mobility or flexibility. Your warm-up stretching routine should mainly consist of light dynamic stretching before your Jiu Jitsu class to improve your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.
- After training: After Jiu Jitsu training, it’s the perfect time to do a dedicated stretching routine. Your muscles and joints are already warmed up, and you don’t have to worry about exhausting your muscles before an upcoming training session.
- On rest days: Rest days are great to do some deep stretching, which will improve your flexibility and mobility over time. For an intense stretching routine, you can basically have two choices: Either do it after a workout or on a rest day.
- Listen to your body: If you feel sore or tight in a particular area, light stretches and movement in the area can help to alleviate the discomfort. However, don’t stretch if you are severely sore or experience pain. Unfortunately, most people tend to do too much, too fast.
By following these simple rules, you can go a long way in optimizing your weekly routines.
Keeping Track of your BJJ Stretching Progress
We always recommend keeping a Jiu Jitsu training journal anyway, and you can additionally use it to track your stretching progress:
Hip Mobility Exercises for Jiu Jitsu
Hip Mobility Hip mobility is crucial for performing most BJJ techniques. Exercises such as hip circles, lunges, leg swings, and many more can help to improve hip mobility.
Here are some hip mobility exercises that you can include in your BJJ stretching routine in more detail:
- Hip Circle: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on your hips. Circle your hips clockwise 10 times and then counterclockwise 10 times. This is a great hip warm-up exercise.
- Figure Four Stretch: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee and gently press down on your left knee. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. This stretch is great for pain relieve.
- Pigeon Pose: Start in a plank position, bring one knee up to the chest, and place it on the ground next to your hand. Lower your opposite leg to the ground, and slide your foot back towards your body until you feel a stretch in your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
- Spider Guard Stretch: The spider guard stretch is a great stretch for improving hip mobility and flexibility. To perform the spider guard stretch, start on all fours, and bring one foot up to the outside of your hand. Lean forward and reach your opposite arm through your legs, feeling a stretch in your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
Maybe it’s easier for you to follow along with a video. We recommend the following BJJ stretching routine for tight hips by Yoga for BJJ:
Shoulder Mobility Exercises for BJJ
Shoulder mobility is essential for staying safe in Jiu Jitsu training and competition. Many techniques either primarily or secondarily attack the shoulder joint, like Americanas, Omoplatas, and Kimuras.
The following stretching routine by Yoga for BJJ is simple and effective for relieving pain and gaining back shoulder mobility:
Jiu Jitsu Stretches for Beginners
If you’re just starting out in Jiu Jitsu, it’s important to develop a stretching routine early. You should design it in a way that you can do it regularly to help you improve your flexibility and mobility in the long run.
We wouldn’t go as far as categorizing stretching exercises into different levels. If you are a beginner, simply follow the tips given above to stay safe and take it easy in the beginning. If you listen to your body, you can do any exercise shown in this article.
More BJJ Mobility and Flexibility Drills
There are countless awesome Jiu Jitsu stretches we didn’t include so far but don’t want you to miss out on. Here are some more mobility and flexibility exercises to include in your BJJ routine:
- Spider Crawl: Start in a push-up position and crawl forward with one leg until it’s outside of your hand. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds and repeat on the other side. It’s a combination of a dynamic stretch and strength exercise.
- Lateral Lunge: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and take a big step to the side with one leg. Bend that knee and push your hips back. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Hip Opener: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and pull the knee towards your chest. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat on the other side.
If you read through the whole article, you now know about the importance of stretching and recovery for Jiu Jitsu. You also learned why and when to do it, as well as what an optimal BJJ warm up and stretching routine might look like.
Chances are stretching isn’t your favorite part of BJJ training. Nevertheless, try to incorporate our Jiu Jitsu stretching routines from above, and you will be amazed about the progress you will make.
We hope that we helped you achieve your flexibility and training goals. Stay safe.