A Reader Question: “I just started bjj and find its killing my knees.”

Question: “Hey guys , absolutely love your site , I gotta question and hope you can help ?
I just started bjj and find its killing my knees.
Are there any ways of strengthening my knees for being on the mats all the time ?? Best wishes from Belfast Ireland , best regards Frank”

Jiu-jitsu Times: Most bjj guys are nursing various aches and pains from training.
As they used to say at the Carlson Gracie Academy in Brazil “This isn’t Disneyland!”

There are a number of factors to answer your question.
* I am not a sports medicine doctor nor do I play one on the internet!

1) Yes, there are some great bodyweight exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles around the knee.
Perform some repetitions when you are at the academy and you will strengthen quadriceps and hamstrings which will support the joint.

Pistol Squat Progression


Steve Maxwell: KB Lateral Lunge + Overhead Squat

read also: on Jiu-jitsu Times: Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Steve Maxwell

2) Flexibility
Are you flexible enough in your quadriceps to allow full flexion of your knees without pain?
Do you have full mobility of the joints (maybe due to previous injury to your leg?)
Be careful about putting yourself in certain positions in sparring that place your knee in a vulnerable position.

Certain positions (omoplata, lasso guard) can cause pain to the knees so pay attention to what might be causing it.

3) Nutrition
Many bjj guys swear by supplements such as fish oil capsules, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help with joint pain.
Much joint pain is caused by inflammation of the joints which can be affected by diet.

I know several bjj guys who reported a significant reduction in joint pain after cutting wheat out of their diets.
It doesn’t seem a likely cause for knee pain, but a diet that creates inflammation in your body contributes to joint pain.
I stopped taping my fingers after 2 weeks changing my diet!

read also: The “Four Minute Workout” – Bare Bones Physical Conditioning for Bjj


  1. Basically just get used to it. I felt the same way in the beginning and am now used to the raw knee feeling from kneeling and grapling on mats. I will say this…rest….rest more than you usually would.


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