How Do You Prepare for Longevity in Jiu Jitsu?
By Joshua Rozenboom
Jiu Jitsu is quickly gaining popularity as a form of exercise. Walk into any academy in your city or town and the odds are high that most students are not competitive athletes. Most school rosters are made up of a combination of competitors, students who are former athletes and continuing their athletic pursuits with martial arts, and students with little to no athletic background who signed up to lose weight and/or learn self-defense. Any or all may have signed up because Jiu Jitsu is way cool, but not everyone has the discipline and health habits of a serious athlete. So, what can you do to make sure you stay healthy and stay on the mats?
One thing does for us is catalyze a lifestyle change; it is an intense form of exercise that is challenging in all aspects, but in order to maximize it’s health benefits we need to take into account our diet, our flexibility, our cardio and our sleep habits. Getting involved in Jiu Jitsu will prompt awareness in these areas, if only because we want to get better at Jiu Jitsu.
Aside from monitoring our day-to-day health, a major concern for grapplers over time is injury. Knees and shoulders are particularly susceptible to injury, but Jiu Jitsu puts strain on all of our joints. So, in addition to keeping ourselves in top shape to survive the shark tank, we have to keep our joints and muscles in shape so we can enjoy a long and busy training career. Here are some ideas on how to stay healthy and increase longevity:
I’m sure most readers are rolling their eyes at the mention of stretching: stretching is boring and we have things to do. However, allowing our body time to warm up and cool down is imperative for the health of our muscles. Stretching will improve the flexibility of our joints and muscles, allowing them to function at their full capacity during exercise.
This has been covered in detail in a previous blog, but it’s worth stating again that adding supplemental exercise to condition your body will help prevent injury and keep you in shape for Jiu Jitsu. Adding yoga, running, swimming, lifting, or any of a number of routines to your training helps strengthen your joints and improves your cardiovascular response.
One of the most difficult lifestyle changes to make is also arguably the most beneficial. Our bodies are complex machines designed to process certain fuels a certain way. Maintaining a proper diet free of processed foods, refined sugars, and excessive carbohydrates requires a lot of discipline, especially if it you are used to eating whatever you want. There are endless ways to shape your diet, and numerous variables dictate what will be the most helpful and sustainable diet for you, so it’s wise to consult with a nutrition expert before embarking on a drastic dietary change.
Listen to your body!!!
A key part of monitoring your health is to actually pay attention to how you feel. You might be able to get away with “pushing through” a pain or slight injury in the short-term, but ignoring those problems and not taking the time to heal properly will guarantee trouble down the road. Chiropractic, physical therapy and massage therapy are useful means of assessing your physical health and making sure that your body is moving the way that it should.
The famous “Jiu Jitsu lifestyle” is about more than good vibes, surfing, and acai. The lifestyle is about dialing in our diet, cardio, and fitness for holistic mental, physical and spiritual improvement. It means not always being aggressive and going hard, but to adapt our training to how we feel so we can prevent downtime and enjoy the journey.
What are your tips for longevity in Jiu Jitsu? Let us know in the comments?