Spinal Maintenance for Grapplers

6 Yoga Poses for Spinal Maintenance

2019-06-06T12:40:19+01:00Blog, Warmup|

You’ve probably already heard of the saying ‘you’re only as young as your spine is flexible’. As a jiu-jitsu athlete, you’ve probably felt it as well.

How old does your spine feel after a few days of training?

You’ll find a much-needed set of spinal stretches in this 10-minute video. Do them before training and after training for best results, or whenever you find a 10-minute block of time.

There are 5 major movements that the spine makes: flexion, extension, rotation, side bending, and axial extension. Those are also all of the movements that we’ll practice in this yoga class.  We’ll do 6 yoga poses for spinal maintenance, which we believe every grappler should add to his/hers back stretching repertoire.

We tend to forget to take our spine through its full range of movements. As a result, our spine gets stiffer, which ultimately leads to pain. The spine is the foundation for most, if not all, yoga poses and movements in general. The stronger and more supple your spine, the better equipped you’ll be to heal any old injuries and prevent the future ones.

Essentially, there are 3 side-effects that develop in your body because of the typical lifestyle that we live today:

  1. Tight hips
  2. A weak core
  3. Lack of mobility in the upper back

What they affect, is how you move and whether or not you will have lower back pain. In case you are already experiencing some back pain, you might want to consider our Back Pain Program. Tight hips and lack of mobility in the upper back can be improved by mobilization. And as far as a weak core goes, there is only one solution – you need to strengthen/stabilize it. What better way to do that, than with another one of our programs –  the Core Week Program (a bit of shameless promo right here).

 Now let’s move on to the main part – the poses:

1. Spinal Twist

To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Drop both of your bent knees over to the right, and send your gaze over to the left, while you try to maintain both shoulder blades down to the mat. Remain in the twist for 1 minute (around 10 breaths) and relax! You’ll get the full benefits of this pose when you let go. Switch the sides after you’re done.

Spinal twist can provide a great number of benefits to your spine, hips, and digestive system. There should be no pain and very little discomfort involved when performed.

spine twist yoga for BJJ

2. Cat and Cow

The Cat-Cow Pose is often considered a “neutral” position in yoga, but can also leave you feeling loose, with less tension and weight in the body.
Set up in tabletop position, with hands under shoulders and knees, and feet hips-width distance. Drop your belly on the inhale and round your spine on the exhale. Repeat this movement a couple of times and finish it off with 3 deep breaths in cat pose.

3. Upward-Facing Dog

Continue your yoga practice, with placing your hips down, pulling your shoulders back and elongating your neck. Take a few breaths in an upward facing dog. This pose will expand the chest and open the lungs while strengthening the muscles of the spine, arms, and shoulders. If the extended arms hurt your lower back too much, place your hips down and rest your body on your elbows in a sphinx pose.

4. Mild Seated Forward Fold

Sit on the floor and bend your knees. Hug your upper legs so that your belly is touching the thighs. Slowly start sliding your heels forward, but keep the connection. As you fold your torso forward, relax your neck, and let your head drop. There’s a separate blog post, dedicated solely to a forward fold, which you can read here.

forward fold yoga for BJJ

5. Plough Pose

Resting flat on your back, place your palms on the mat beside you (if you have neck problems, place your hands under your lower back instead). Lift up as you hinge at the hips and rest your feet directly above your head. Try to press your toes into the mat beyond your head. You might need to support your hips with your hands a bit. Stay here for a while and don’t forget to breathe.

This pose has many benefits – it helps with alleviating back pain, brings fresh blood to the brain to help with headaches etc. If you want to be a good open guard player this pose is also a must.

6. Downward-Facing Dog

This is probably the first pose you think of when someone mentions yoga. It helps with lengthening and strengthening back and leg muscles. One of yoga’s most widely recognized yoga poses builds strength while stretching the whole body. Your arms are pushing your hips up, while your head is dropping down towards the arms. Take 10 breaths and feel free to move around as much as you want to, or just do whatever makes your body feel good.

Want to learn even more benefits of a downward-facing dog? There’s a great blog post on the topic, that awaits for you right here.

Downward Facing Dog

In case this video seems familiar –  it used to be part of the old 10 in 10 beginner program. We’ve since created a new 10 in 10 program for beginners, accessible here. It’s a must for every Yoga for BJJ newbie!

But don’t take our word for it, check it out yourself:

10 day beginner program – new version

Start following this beginners program for 10 days and do 10 minutes each day. There’s something for every body part!

Read More

10 day beginner program – older version

Older version of the 10 in 10 beginner program, 10 more 10-minute videos for every body part!

Yes Please