Your Grips Might Save Your Life

The term “referred pain” is such a very interesting concept. Referred pain is pain felt in a part of the body other than its actual source. It’s always mind blowing to learn how one area of the body can hurt, and then realize that the source of that pain is nowhere near the area in pain.  

A recent study identified a potential link between grip strength and mortality rates. Now this may not be as overt as identifying pains from any kind of injury, but this study can help assess and identify potential risks to your health and longevity. The study was conducted by an international team of researchers headed by Dr. Darryl Leong, an assistant professor of cardiology at McMaster University in Ontario.

Dr. Leong’s study group consisted of 140,000 people between the ages of 40 to 70 years old and was conducted over a four year period. In that period 3,000 test subjects had passed away. Using a dynamometer to measure a person’s grip strength, the research team was able to observe how grip strength measurements may be a more accurate indicator of predicting mortality than physical activity. Not only that, but grip strength also out performed systolic blood pressure as a risk indicator of death.

When all of the data was compared against some major, yet far too common health ailments, measuring grip strength was as good as measuring blood pressure when it came to predicting heart attacks, heart failures and strokes. Dr. Leong goes on to add “We think that [grip strength] reflects the sum of all of the healthy or unhealthy behaviors that you’ve engaged in throughout the course of your life even”.

Although there are many factors that are involved in assessing overall health (the study also found that grip strength plays an unlikely role in regards to cancer, respiratory illness, diabetes, etc.), it is still unclear whether working to improve your grip strength will directly resolve any ailments. However, considering this finding, it is promising to know that when we are drilling, and doing exercises to improve our grip strength, not only will our jiu-jitsu improve, but there’s a good chance our lifespan will as well. Once again jiu-jitsu presents itself with another offering in the realm of our health and longevity.


For the full Australian Broadcasting Corporation article about this study, click here.


Jim Lawson is a US Marine Corps veteran, jiu-jitsu black belt under Rodrigo Teixeira, who loves to travel and teach jiu-jitsu to anyone who will listen. He has a lot of other experiences and credentials but who really cares about all that. He’d love to keep in touch with you. You can stay in touch with him either through email or on his social media (where his numbers could really use a boost).

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