I’m currently taking care of several Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) athletes at the Jorge Santos Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training centre.
This combat sport is based on grappling and ground fighting. But BJJ it is not solely a martial art; it is also a sport;
a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way of life.
BJJ, due to the constant application of joint-locks and chokeholds, can provoke mechanical imbalances along the entire spine. Especially when practiced on regular basis and for a long period of time, it can lead the athletes to experience conditions like general muscle tension, neck/back pain, numbness and weakness in the arms and/or legs.
A couple of suggestions that I want to give to BJJ athletes about taking care of their bodies, those would be:
To constantly do postural and functional exercises, focused on the stability of their back and on functional movement;
To have their back regularly checked, to make sure that every single component of their spine is moving properly and that the nervous system is working free of interferences.
The goal is to maintain the body working at 100% of its potential for the longest period possible. Every athlete needs to use his/her body in an effective, efficient and sustainable way to achieve this goal. As we already said, chiropractic plays a fundamental role in helping the nervous system, the one who controls the function of every element of the body, to work free of interference. In other words chiropractic helps you to use your body in a more effective, efficient and sustainable way.
In my experience with the Jorge Santos Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training centre athletes, I can say that neck and arms problems are a frequent complaint of this kind of athletes.
Interestingly, I just bumped into an interesting research about the grip strength in judo athletes and Chiropractic care ¹. The muscles in charge of moving the hands are controlled by nerves that come out from the neck. If the neck is not moving properly, this communication can be affected and as a consequence the grips can be weaker.
In this study, judo athletes of a top 10 national-ranked Brazilian judo team were selected and randomly divided in two groups; one receiving proper chiropractic adjustment in the neck, the other receiving a “fake” treatment in the same area. The grip strength of each one of them was tested before and after each treatment. The results showed that the group of athletes who received a proper chiropractic adjustment experienced significant increase of their grip strength bilaterally, a progressive improvement adjustment after adjustment. Even though the number of athletes was not very high, we see that there might be a connection between chiropractic care and the improvement of athletic performance in judo athletes ¹.
This study shows how chiropractic care can be beneficial, especially for athletes that need their grips to be as firm and strong as possible.
Finally, optimal body performance seems to be strictly related with chiropractic care, especially in combat sports.
Botelho MB, Andrade BB. Effect of Cervical Spine Manipulative Therapy on Judo Athletes’ Grip Strength. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. gennaio 2012;35(1):38–44.