Stretching should NOT be associated with torturing yourself. Quite the opposite – it should feel good while doing it. You should be able to relax, otherwise, the effect is lost. By learning to stretch properly, you’ll maximize your mobility, greatly reduce the risk of pain and injury and perform better at BJJ. We will discuss 3 most common stretching mistakes everyone is doing, and which often lead to frustration and lackluster results.
There is a video waiting for you at the end of this post, where Sebastian will explain all of this to you again.
The first and most common mistake is starting with 100%, which often result in you giving up. Instead, do it the other way around – start from 0% and continue your way up to 100%. Meaning, focus on small stretches first and slowly work on deepening your poses.
To make an even more relatable comparison – that is like being a white belt, trying to fight a black belt and assume you are going to win. Sadly, that’s not how it works. You have to move through all the belts first until you reach the highest level. Same story here. Stretching should be done by moving into a pose slowly and gently, staying within your comfort zone. Never push your muscles to the point of pain. Pain is the body’s defense mechanism, so you should listen to it! Stretch to the point of tension, but you’ll want to stop there.
The second mistake is also tightly connected to the first one, which is trying to reach a 100% straight away. Also known as ballistic stretching, this action can stretch your muscles too far, too fast, resulting in a pulled muscle. Yanking yourself forward to catch a limb and get to a certain pose, followed by holding your breath, won’t do you any good.
Holding your breath causes tension in the muscles, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do. And that’s not the only side effect. Muscles need oxygen throughout a stretch. Furthermore, holding your breath can elevate blood pressure. By taking DEEP, SLOW breaths you will relax the muscles, promote blood flow, and increase oxygen flow to the muscles.
If you want to educate yourself even more about how to breathe properly, click on the button below.
Instead of yanking, start the stretch by grabbing onto something, firm up and try to relax into the pose. Pushing too far can lead to overextended muscles or even dislocated joints. Not only that, but overextended muscles can cause strain and imbalances, that can have a negative impact on your workouts.
Bailing out before the full benefit of the stretch kicks in is the third most common mistake people tend to do.
A general tip is to stay in the pose at least for 30 seconds, or ideally for 1.5 minutes. But what you really want to pay attention to, is how your body is responding. Most stretches go through a 2-part phase:
- the first part, in which you feel that specific tension, indicating the muscle is being elongated past its norm,
- and the second part, in which the muscle begins to relax and surrender to the stretch. It is only in the second part of the stretching when your body is usually starting to relax. You may even feel the welcome of that “Ohhh – Ahhh” relief of the stretch.
To put indifferently, by not staying in a stretch long enough, you’re putting yourself through the hardest part, but depriving yourself of the very reward and benefit of stretching. By fitting those few extra breaths in, you will do your body a favor. So, DON’T BE ANXIOUS, BE PATIENT!!