Grips! So important, yet so rarely given the proper focus. However, you already know that, so you’ve been practicing your grip fighting skills as often as you can and you’re gripping the Gi every chance you get! But something’s off… Your forearms are constantly sore, and that’s no wonder – but your elbow has been flaring up as well.
Basically, you are experiencing grip-related pain; all that squeezing is taking a toll on your body. Luckily for you, the Youtube’s favorite BJJ instructor – Nick „Chewy“ Albin – has a few words of advice on how to deal with this and prevent it!
THIS IS WHY YOU ARE EXPERIENCING PAIN
Chewy begins by explaining why this pain occurs. Essentially, it’s due to the overuse of your forearm muscles; more specifically, of your forearm flexor ones. These muscles are activated when you make the curling motion with your hand, and this is something which you constantly do when you’re training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Especially in the Gi.
Furthermore, these muscles are activated yet again via gym exercises, in which athletes force the engagement of their forearms by additional curling movements. All in all, your forearm muscles and ligaments start to hurt because you’re using them in the same manner for much more than they can handle.
DON’T DO THIS IN THE GYM…
If you’re going to the gym and hitting weights – and you want the gym to help you with your Jiu Jitsu progress, not take you further away from it – then heed this word of advice from Chewy; grip the dumbbell/barbell properly and don’t let it „slip“ to your fingers. It’s too easy to just let the weight slip down as you try to crank out more reps, but don’t do it. Your flexor muscles won’t get better this way, you will just tire them out even further.
Don’t sacrifice form and don’t sacrifice your powerful gripping apparatus, but grab a hold of the weights properly. Your Jiu Jitsu longevity will thank you for it.
… BUT DO THESE FANTASTIC GRIP EXERCISES
So, what should you actually do to prevent pain and injuries that come with this? Chewy has a few great exercises that you can do; all of which will strengthen your underused extensor muscles.
For the first exercise, Chewy shows that you’ll simply grab a dumbbell and rest your forearm against some sort of a block, table or similar; something where your hand – holding the weight – can easily hang down from, but where your forearm can safely rest. Then, with your palm facing down, use your wrist to elevate the dumbbell as high as you can; lower it down and repeat.
This small motion will have your forearm extensor muscles burning pretty quickly, and you will strengthen them quite a bit in the process.
The second and third exercise Chewy shows will help you out greatly with the endurance necessary for finishing Cross Collar Chokes, as well as other chokes which are similar in nature – which, to one degree or another, involve flexing the hand (at the wrist) to the side. They will also make sure that you don’t injure your ulna and radial bone.
Just wrap an elastic band around an elevated surface, grab its end, extend your hand – and then do the same small movement as in the previous exercise, albeit you’ll be flexing your hand to the side (one away from you) this time. Then, after a couple of reps, switch to an overhand grip and do the same movement; but flex your hand into the direction in front of yourself.
Chewy demonstrates these exercises on the video below: