Mobility And Preventative Maintenace For Over 35 BJJ – Part 2

Last week, we met Dharma Shay, a conditioning and rehab expert who operates a conditioning gym in Hawaii.

This is Part 2 in a short series of articles on mobility, preventative maintenance, and conditioning for BJJ and athletes over 40.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: What is meant by “mobility”? How is mobility different than flexibility? What areas of mobility do many BJJ guys tend to neglect?

Dharma Shay: Mobility and flexibility generally are utilized interchangeably, but are actually quite different. Flexibility is generally related to the muscle tissues length. Some would say that the goal of flexibility is to lengthen the muscle from point A to B. There are two forms of flexibility called static flexibility and dynamic flexibility. In general dynamic flexibility stretches are done before a workout and static stretches are done after a workout. Flexibility can be described in concrete terms, such as “Hi hamstring inflexibility producing tension in his lower back.”

Mobility relates to the heat or preparation of the muscle to stretch or move from point A to point B without the restrictions in range of motion. Mobility differs from flexibility in the fact that mobility may involve a joints ability to allow a person to utilize there flexibility. Mobility can be described in subjective terms, such as a practitioner expressing a feeling of tightness.

Both are really important but as an instructor it is important to expose students to mobility drills, and as a practitioner it is important to be aware of you inflexibility with specific muscle groups.

Due to BJJ practitioners experiencing high rates of lower back (lumbar) injuries, shoulder joint injuries, elbow joint injuries, and knee joint injuries it is important that mobility drills are built around priming these areas for performance. Secondary areas that are often not often addressed for mobility are the ankles, wrist, and cervical spine. Due to all of the secondary areas being small it is likely often assumed that they are addressed in the larger movements, but for practitioners who feel as though they are prone to injuries in the secondary regions be sure to implement mobility drills for the area independently if you school does not provide any.

JJT: The concept of preventative maintenance — especially for athletes 35 years of age or older — is becoming more widely known. What is meant by the idea of preventative maintenance for athletes?

DS: When an athletic trainer or physical therapist mentions preventative maintenance for an athlete they are talking about the utilization of preventative exercises that will strengthen, build stability, and prepare joints and muscle groups for performance use. Though the human body is adaptable, often as one muscle group develops more strength it is common that the ligaments and tendons will not keep up without some form of joint maintenance.

When it comes to preventative maintenance exercises for BJJ, we are talking about preventing high rates of lower back injuries, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, and knee injuries. Traditionally, trainers see this when weekend warriors return to the basketball court for that reunion game and rupture their Achilles or ACL while playing a friendly match. The issue here is that there is often little signs that a tear or rupture is about to take place, but performing a few preventative exercise on the ankles or knees can go a long way to prime the joints and muscle for performance.

So the big question is, “Why are there so many injuries after age 35?” The human body goes through many musculoskeletal changes throughout life mostly due to our lifestyles and natural hormonal changes. The age 35 is a significant changing point for most grown adults due to most adults experiencing reductions of 5% lean muscle mass by this point. What this means is that your body is likely to produce less testosterone and your base ability to produce strength (learn about testosterone here) — unless you have maintained lean muscle mass through resistance training — is going to show relative reduction related to the overall lean muscle mass the body has maintained. Another reason BJJ practitioners in there 30’s and up need to utilize preventative maintenance is due to the progressive reduction of physical activity as adult’s age and the implications this may have on the durability of your joints.
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