Recovery for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t just for the older practitioners or those training two-three times a day, it's for everyone. No matter how young, mobile, strong or flexible you are, when training a high-intensity martial art like BJJ your body (always) needs time to recover, especially when training three or more times a week.
Recovery may not be the first thing you think of, but it does play a significant role in your Jiu-Jitsu training. Proper recovery and rest can be just as important as the training itself; it can help you to get better results, prevent injury, and keep you training for longer. Overtraining can lead to injury, likewise if you don’t look after yourself in between sessions, you may also find yourself having more time off than anticipated.
Your BJJ recovery doesn’t have to be expensive or overly complicated, you just need to look after your body a bit more than the average person who doesn’t train - keep it simple.
The five tips below are not the only actions you can take to help aid recovery - a lot of factors come into play - but the below are some basics when it comes to helping your body recover after regular BJJ sessions.
1. Stretching After Training
Basic stretching is one recovery method that helps all types of athletes. Even five or ten minutes of stretching after training can be enough to kick off the recovery process. You should always be warmed up prior to training, as muscles that are too tight could lead to injury.
Stretching is essential in any athletic endeavour, but even more-so in BJJ because of the extreme range of unorthodox motion required. Stretching will increase supply of blood to muscles to help cope with strenuous martial arts activities.
Stretching before a training session helps because it loosens the muscles, minimising the risks of sustaining or aggravating injuries, and improves your range of motion for better performance. Stretching after training while cooling down may also assist in reducing the muscle soreness.
2. Diet - Eat Your Protein!
A healthy balanced diet plays a big part in any jiu jitsu practitioners training and recovery, with protein being a major factor. Protein is vital for growth and repair. In order to help aid recovery you need to make sure you are consuming enough protein as it provides the body with the necessary amount of amino acids to help build and repair muscles and tissues.
Nutrition is essential for supporting an athlete's general health and their training needs. Having a suitable diet provides a person with enough energy and nutrients to meet the demands of training and exercise. In addition to helping a person perform optimally, it will also facilitate recovery.
According to the DGA, athletes doing intense training may benefit from ingesting more than two times the recommended daily amount of protein in their diet.
3. Stay Hydrated and Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most vital things to recovery is hydration. When you train an intense sport like BJJ, you will lose a lot of water and sodium. If you are dehydrated, your body has to work harder to repair itself after training, which can make recovery more difficult. Make sure to drink enough water before, during and after training. It is a simple tactic, often overlooked and has a huge impact on performance. Even a mild loss of water can make your heart work harder and decrease your endurance.
4. Rest Well
One of the simplest ways to recover well after a tough training session is to get a good quality night's sleep. The ideal amount of sleep is eight hours. Sleep is essential to the recovery process for both your physical and mental health, as it helps your body bounce back from the stress you put it through during the day.
Sleep plays a big role in the release of growth hormone which can be hindered by sleep deprivation. Growth hormone, amongst other things, regulates muscle growth. Muscle growth is needed to repair damage done from training, even if not trying to add mass. Hormones also play a huge role in how we feel and perform.
As addictive as BJJ is, rest days are essential. You need to allow your body to have some time off. If you have not been getting much sleep recently, then perhaps take a day off training and use that time to rest instead, and give your body some time to recover.
5. Cold Therapy
Cold showers and ice baths are a popular method of muscle recovery as cold therapy is known to reduce muscle soreness. Cold therapy works by restricting blood flow to the muscles which decreases swelling, muscle soreness, and muscle damage.
Ice baths work by cooling the skin, muscle, and core temperature. This leads to constriction of the blood vessels slowing or blocking the flow of blood which may decrease swelling and acute inflammation muscle damage.
Joe Rogan, BJJ black belt, UFC commentator, and host of one of the world’s most popular podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience, frequently raves about the benefits of receiving regular cryotherapy treatments to heal his many aches and pains, and has even interviewed cold-venturist ‘The Ice Man’ Wim Hoff .
As far as recovery tips go, this covers the basics. There are plenty of options out there that can help aid recovery from intense training sessions, it's just finding the right one for you, and knowing what kind of recovery method you need to use, but don't underestimate the power of water, good food and an eight hour sleep.