Chest and Shoulder Tension Release

Mobility for BJJ

Release your Chest and Shoulder tension with these simple exercises


Mobility refers to how freely a joint can move throughout its full range of motion and is super important, especially in jiu-jitsu. By keeping your body mobile, you can reduce your risk of injury, correct muscle imbalances caused by muscle tightness, decrease pain in your joints and of course, improve your performance on the mat.

This post is going to address different poses, which will help you to open up your chest and release shoulder tension.

Prop: your trusted jiu-jitsu belt. And no, the color doesn’t matter.

Position #1

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Get a wide grip on your belt and stretch it over your head. At the same time, avoid tilting your head forward. Straighten up and balance the head on top of your spine instead. Continue by doing some simple side stretches.

Your breath should follow the movement: exhale – do the side stretch, inhale – come back to center. Once you’ve taken those 5 deep breaths, return to the center and do some short, quick twists from side to side.

You don’t need to exaggerate and have your belt all the way back, just go nice and easy. The belt is actually helping our shoulders to relax and stretch. It also kind of helps you to cheat a little, because you’re not using your muscles to keep your arms up as much. Try going all the way back a couple of times. An even better prop to use here would be a rubber band because it would adapt to your stiffness.

Position #2

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After repeating the back-and-forth/front-and-back movement a couple of times, release the belt, put one hand in front of you, grab your opposite shoulder with the other hand and pull it down and in. While doing so, try to pull your head back and straighten your back, so you’re not hunching forward. If you feel like you’re hugging yourself here then well done, you’re doing it correctly. By doing this pose, you’re stretching the outside of the deltoid muscle. Take 5 – 5 deep breaths that is, not a  5 minutes break. Release the arm and switch sides.

The back of your shoulders usually get a fair amount of beating in jiu-jitsu. And that’s because, for the most part, we don’t push so much, instead, we tend to pull a lot, using only a small part over and over again, which is you might experience some pain while doing this stretch.

Position #3

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We’re starting off this position by sitting in seiza-style – a.k.a. kneeling on the floor, folding your legs underneath your thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels. Interlace the fingers behind your back, then stretch your arms down, back and away from you. If you can’t interlace your fingers use your belt again.

This should result in you, looking somewhat similar to a pigeon puffing up his chest. Totally normal, and very good for stretching the front of your chest and the pec minor (for those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, this is the muscle which connects your chest with the shoulder blade). If you suffer from round shoulders, this is also the muscle you should consider stretching regularly.

Position #4

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This next position is very much similar to the previous one. But instead of interlacing your fingers behind your back, you should do it over your head. You can keep your arms bend if you can’t straighten them, while still trying to lift them as high as you can. Make sure you’re not creating any tension in your neck by moving it around a little bit.

Do you want to find out more ways on how to relieve your shoulder pain with a jiu-jitsu belt?

Click here

Position #5

Grab your belt again – what you might find helpful this time, is you make a knot on it. Hold onto the knot with one hand, then throw the belt over your head and catch it with the other hand. While you maintain this wide grip, create an up-and-down movement with your hands. You should keep repeating this until you start to feel an uncomfortable tension in the shoulders. Afterwards, move your hands closer together and push your head back, leaning it onto your upper hand.

You know what follows next – switching sides!

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Position #6

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Moving on to our final position. Start by sitting down, with knees in front and hands at the back. You are bending the elbows and squeezing your shoulders together, stretching the front of the shoulders. Now that you got yourself into the position, try to maintain it for 1 minute. What you also want to try, is relaxing your face, as hard as that might be.

Sebastian created a full week program, dedicated solely to shoulders and he talks about it more is this video:

go to the video

Now that you’ve completed 10 minutes of these very simple shoulder moves, how do you feel?

Can you feel that the tension has been removed from them?

If your answer to both questions above is YES, then first of all – glad I could help. And second of all, why not try and make your whole body feel in a similar way?

Sign up to Yoga for BJJ, or if you’re still not convinced, at least give it a shot with this FREE TRIAL.

The best way to get the benefits of these poses is to try them yourself!

Shoulder Week Program

This program features 5 videos with a combination of flow and stretching for your shoulders.

Read More

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