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Stretching With Your Belt

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If you’re the type who loves to constantly train and compete, then taking a break from rolling or working out may not be your thing; however, you can reap several benefits by taking time to stretch.  Stretching decreases muscle stiffness and the risk of low back pain.  It improves posture, increases range of motion, may reduce your risk of injury, helps reduce or manage stress, reduces muscular tension, enhances muscular relaxation, promotes circulation, and helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains.  “How does this relate to jiu-jitsu?” you ask.  By reaping all the benefits I’ve already mentioned, stretching will also help improve your mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance.

 

A01Hamstrings
One of the most common PNF stretches is the hamstring stretch.

1. Lie down on your back on the floor/mat.

2. Loop your belt around your foot so you’re holding both ends of the belt.

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3. Slowly pull on the ends of the belt and use it to lift your legs into the air. Be sure to keep your knee straight.  You can also do with one leg at a time.

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4. Bring your legs up until a stretch is felt behind your thigh.

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Prescription: Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch.  Switch legs and repeat this movement three times.

 

Quads
Now that we’ve stretched out the hamstrings, let’s focus on the opposing muscle area, the quadriceps.  It’s very important that both groups be stretched; otherwise you could be setting yourself up for muscular imbalance.  This can cause injury or hamper your performance.

1. Lie on your stomach and loop your belt around your ankle.

2. Reach behind you and grab both ends of your belt with one hand.

3. Gently pull on it so your knee bends and a gentle stretch is felt in the front of your thigh.

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Prescription: Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch.  Switch legs and repeat this movement three times.

 

C01Calves
1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.

2. Wrap your belt around the ball of your foot, just below your toes.

3. Gently pull on your belt, allowing your foot to slowly bend up towards your knee while keeping your knee straight.  You should feel a slight stretching feeling in the back of your lower leg.  You may feel the stretch behind your heel or behind your knee, depending on where the muscle or tendon is particularly tight.

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Prescription: Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch.  Switch legs and repeat this movement three times.

 

Shoulder Rotation
1. Hold your belt in one hand; drape it over your shoulder, and down your back.  If you are stretching your left shoulder, your belt should be placed over your right shoulder, and be held in your right hand.

D01

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4. Reach behind your back with your other hand and grip your belt.

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3. Gently pull your belt up, allowing your hand behind your back to move across, and up your back.  A gentle stretch should be felt in the front or side of your shoulder.

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4. Once you feel a stretch in your shoulder, hold the position for 10 seconds and then slowly release the stretch.

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Prescription: Repeat 6 times for each shoulder, trying to pull your arm up your back a little further each time.  Be sure to move slowly and avoid sudden or jerking motions.

 

Chest Stretch

1. While standing and holding your belt at both ends, lift your arms overhead, and then allow your arms to fall behind your neck and back.  You should feel some slight rotation in your shoulders.  Be sure to keep your arms straight.

2. With both arms holding your belt behind your back, you should feel a stretch in the front of your chest.

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Prescription: Relax and hold this position for 30 seconds.  Remember to breathe slowly and let the chest muscles stretch gently.  Perform one more time.

 

F01

Tie your belt into a noose like loop as shown.

Stretch Your Wings and Fly
You can take your butterfly stretch to the next level with this slick trick.  You’ll need two belts to perform it.  Take one foot of the end of your belt, make a loop, and feed the other end of the belt through it to form an adjustable loop.  Get into butterfly stretch position.  Place the loop around your knee; wrap the rest of the belt around your back, and then underneath your feet.  Do the same with your second belt.  Finally, pull up on the end of your belts.

1. End of belt tied in a knot with the other end pulled through.

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F02

Assume butterfly position. Wrap belt around body as shown.

2. One belt around knee and back and underneath feet.

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F03

Tension presses knees down and ankles in.

3. Pulling up on ends of belts.

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Prescription: Relax and hold this position for 30 seconds.  Remember to breathe slowly and let the chest muscles stretch gently.  Perform one more time.

 

By implementing stretching into your everyday routine, you’ll improve your overall jiu-jitsu game tremendously.  It will enhance your strengths and lessen your weaknesses, regardless of the way you roll.  Who doesn’t want that when dealing with a tough opponent?  You can do it while reading Jiu-Jitsu Magazine or watching our videos on YouTube.  So, exercise your mind and body at the same time consistently, and the results will come.

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