“I need to stretch”
Everyone says it. Because it’s common knowledge that most of us need to improve our flexibility (and those who don’t need to improve their flexibility are not in our group of friends, we don’t hang out with people like that. Can’t trust them).
“Just need to stretch more”
They might throw in a little stretch here or there, maybe before the most important match of their lives at the Worlds Jiu-Jitsu Championships or waiting for the biggest seminar of the century to begin.
Whether we are addicted to Jiu-Jitsu or practice it casually – we find the days turn into weeks turn into years. Watching the white belt turns into a blue belt (or a really ragged white belt if you aren’t very good) then a purple belt…As we get older it can get harder and harder to stay on the mats in an effective way through soreness, stiffness and injuries.
So what do we do to change this?
Maybe say we need to ‘stretch more’ a couple extra times a week, maybe we add a third event of stretching to our lives at a Saturday open mat.
The truth is, stretching really isn’t about stretching at all. It is about 3 factors that play a beneficial and for some individuals a vital role in their training, and once they experience it, they don’t know how they did without it.
In the event of getting out of a car ride after training (we all know that cramped feeling) or waking up after a deep slumber the day after a savage training session, we have the potential to be incredibly stiff and maybe even sore.
The act of stretching adds slow and controlled movement to muscles to encourage the circulation back into the stretched area. Stretching helps break the cycle of sore and stiff muscles, this cycle can go from soreness to contraction and tightness.
Break the cycle, and feel better.
This is where Sebastian’s slogan comes from: Train Smart, Fight Forever. That doesn’t mean just train. That means adding supplements that will help your training, aka. Stretching.
When is the best time to stretch? After the training session or in the morning? The answer is, anything is better than nothing. If you can fit in our 15 minute cooldown video immediately after training, go ahead. Or if you find the morning after you move slower than zombie then hit up our ‘Morning Bundle’. Just remember, something is always better than nothing.
2.Body awareness and movement
Don’t feel bad if the most yoga you have ever done is saying ‘I need to do some stretching’. To say you are clueless would be an understatement.
That’s why there is a Ten in Ten Program. Ten videos, for ten minutes for ten days, where Sebastian also share with us the raw honesty of how he also hated yoga at the start (this is how we know we can trust him).
The series leads into flows, movement. Why is this is so addicting. Because the flows target areas we usually don’t focus on (like getting movement into that poor, stiff, neglected lower back). The flows are continuous, allowing opportunity to balance on the hands, to hold strong poses on one leg, and to find strength and stability in ways that we haven’t experienced before.
This can be absolutely massive for Jiu-Jitsu. Having the ability to to flow, to balance, to control, with the added bonus of a healthy movement because all the body parts are getting what they need. The body parts that we usually ignore (side stretches, lower back, etc). Getting up to finish executing that sweep wasn’t as hard as it used to be.
Don’t worry if you fall off your mat multiple times during your first flow week. That is a common diagnosis called ‘Baby Gazellities’ (where your balance and movement is like a baby gazelle that has just been born and falls multiple times with it’s first attempts at walking), this diagnosis has been proven to last for a short period of time if the affected individual continues to practice their flows.
The sad part is, we are all affected. But most never realize it until they begin to heal themselves by practicing the flows. There is hope my friends.
What we don’t realize is that during training our nervous system can also take a beating. Wrestling, takedowns, defences and offences.
When you finally getting that armbar set up.
Getting squished by the person who outweighs you by 62 pounds (and you aren’t really sure why you asked them to wrestle in the first place).
Wrestling that damn 12 year old who taps you six times and your pride is so hurt that you try to dive back into the round and tap them or at least overpower them but the little bugger is so good they just tap you again (you ask yourself during this round what you even like about Jiu-Jitsu).
Trying to escape from that back choke where someone is attempting to end our lives by cutting off the oxygen to our brains.
Then there is a round of all rounds. These don’t happen often and if they do – you are a very lucky individual. Your twin showed up to training. Maybe they are a little stronger or bigger but you have more skill so it evens out – you both square off.
Like some old western movie, and you wrestle. To the point that you want to vomit but they caught you last time so you can’t allow them to catch you this time. You move so fast and so strong you are surprised at what your instincts and muscle memory can do. When others around you create space in order to not be trampled under what’s known as ‘The Battle To The Death’.
Reality? You either look like an amazing articulation of technique, movement, and reactions and everyone is dumbfounded by its raw magnificence – or you look like two cats fighting. Either way, this is the round that does it in.
How could our nervous system not be wired. Then think of the stresses of our day to day lives, with work, relationships, family, obligations, after this we are crazy enough to show up to training and experience the aforementioned situations.
Get home . Can’t sleep, the soreness begins to set in like the black plague taking over our bodies. We need to sleep. But can’t.
When we are wrestling savage rounds to the death like medieval times (or even just normal rounds) our sympathetic nervous system takes over – fight or flight (it’s interesting to know that even stress and anxiety from the day can encourage the sympathetic nervous system to take over). If this takes over too much it can actually distract focus and affect memory (due to the high levels of cortisol released). Not to mention give us what feels like a baby ulcer every day from the anxiety.
So. When we slow down with some Yin Yoga it has potential to reset us by restoring balance and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the things we our body does automatically that we don’t think about (like breathing).
We need these two nervous systems to be balanced. Yoga is one avenue that helps with that in a big way.
So. Next time we say ‘I need to stretch more’ there is far more value in the potential to improve quality of life than we realize.
Time to get started, because if you are missing this you are missing out: