Actually, both. But of course it all depends on the type of stretching. Here’s what to do.
Before training BJJ
Before training make sure that you stretch anything that feels particularly stiff. Stretching before training aims to prepare your body for exercise and prevent injury. It’s not supposed to increase your flexibility.
The best stretches here are relatively dynamic ones where you won’t be spending too much time in the position.
Here’s a short 5 minute sequence of stretches that will help you prepare the areas of your body that are most likely to be stiff in BJJ. Check out the video version below or scroll down for the text.
5 minute pre-training stretching sequence
- Downward dog – In this position keep lifting your hips up while pushing your head down and away from your arms. Bend one knee at a time and stretch the back of your calves. You can also get up on your toes and twist your heels to one side, while your arms remain in the same position. It’s. great way to stretch the sides of your body. This stretch mobilises your whole body and prepares it to work.
- Front of hip stretch – Step one leg forward and keep the knee above your ankle. Place the other knee on the floor and flatten your foot. Sink low on your hips while keeping your spine straight to stretch the front of the hip. This stretch helps relieve your lower back too.
- From the previous position place your hands on the mat and move your hips back, so that the front leg is straight and the back leg bent. With a straight spine lean over the front leg to stretch your hamstrings.
- Repeat number 2 and 3 on the other side.
- Invert onto your back and stay there for a second or two – It’s a nice warm up for the back and the neck. Especially when you sit all day at work!
- Sit down with your legs open as wide as possible and fold forward with a straight lower back. It doesn’t matter how far you can go as long as you feel the stretch. Return to centre and repeat on the left and right leg.
The best physio tool!
If there’s a specific area of your body that always feels stiff there something else you can do.
If I have 15 min before training I use a physio ball to break down the tension in my hips, glutes and thighs. This immediately improves your hip and back mobility and prevents injury. It’s a much more effective release than stretching, but it takes more time. Read a post about how amazing it is here.
After training BJJ
This type of stretching is ideal on a day off or in the evening after training. This involves deep stretches and you’ll usually stay in the positions for longer. This kind of stretching increases your flexibility.
Stretching after training is when you can work on your splits and other crazy things. Stay in each position for a while as you relax in front of the tv or are chilling otherwise.
Why not do splits before training?
The short answer is that if you train after deep stretching you’ll immediately undo what you’ve worked for as your muscles will contract again.
However, with deep stretching there’s a risk of pushing yourself too far. If you train right after such session you may get injured due to putting extra strain on the muscles.
Check out the before and after training tutorials on my YouTube channel!