Stretching: It’s Necessary, Not Optional

Are you too cool to stretch? I used to be– or I thought I was. And then I strained a few muscles, had some back issues while surfing, and had sore legs and tight hips from running. Now I can’t seem to stretch enough. Oh, and I am 30. That hurts to type.

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Why Should You Stretch?

Stretching can balance the length and tension of muscles around a joint, decreasing the likelihood of overactive muscles and joint stress. However, it is important to identify the muscles that are actually overactive (no guessing). Once you do that, then you can develop a plan for lengthening them and strengthening their counterparts. Click here to see how to find overactive muscles.

If you do not balance the muscles around your joints, you will develop faulty movement patterns over time. Essentially, you will succumb to the following series of events:

Muscle Imbalances–> Poor Posture–> Improper Movements–> Injury

(Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel, & Sutton, 2008)

When & How to Stretch

  1. Use a posture assessment to determine which muscles to target
  2. Do SMFR (Self Myofascial Release, AKA Foam Rolling) first!
  3. Corrective, Active, or Functional stretching
    • A trainer is especially beneficial at this stage

You should stretch before and after each work out. However, one caveat is necessary. There is some scientific research suggesting that acute static stretching before a performance can slightly decrease power and/or strength (Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel, & Sutton, 2008). Conversely, long-term (chronic) stretching has been associated with increased strength and power.

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So start implementing stretching now to increase your long-term power, strength, range of motion and neuromuscular efficiency, and to decrease joint stress.


Clark, M. A., Lucett, S. C., McGill, E., Montel, I., & Sutton, B. (2018). NASM essentials of personal fitness training. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jiu Jitsu: What to Expect


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First: What is it?

Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport that ends when one contestant submits another through grappling. It requires strength, quickness, technique, endurance, and strategy,  necessitating one to be able to think ahead of one’s movements.

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It’s like trying to untie yourself from multiple moving knots that you have never seen– while trying to tie your own–after you have pushed yourself to your physical limits.

I’ve often heard Joe Rogan comment on it saying, “It’s high level problem solving with dire physical consequences.” I think that is a reasonable description, but I can see how the “dire physical consequences” bit would push some people away from it.

Don’t let that discourage you.

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What to expect

I took– unwittingly– an uncommon approach to my first lesson, so my experience is probably an atypical one. I went to an open mat session instead of going to curriculum and learning the basics. Here are some thoughts I can pass on to somebody thinking about giving it a try.

  1. Go to a reputable gym, one that has an atmosphere focused on learning and growth
  2. You’re going to be nervous– deal with it. 
  3.  You need a mouth guard (obvious but easy to forget)
  4. The gi is a very tough fabric, and you will sweat a lot in it. Moreover, it is a tool that you can use and that can be used against you.
  5. Unless you are a  wrestler already, you will be exhausted fairly quickly, regardless of the shape you are in
  6. Your mind will be overwhelmed for the entire session
  7. You will be humbled within minutes
  8. There will be a lot of “aha moments”
  9. You will feel better about yourself when you leave, even if you get your butt whooped the entire time

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If you are looking for a different kind of workout, or you are looking for something to challenge you mentally and physically, I would say that you should definitely give it a try.

It’s not easy, but that which is worthwhile rarely is.


Have you done Jiu Jitsu before? If so, what do you enjoy about it? What would you recommend to a beginner?