How to Correct Your Posture for BJJ

A man practicing good posture in BJJ
The Importance of Good Posture in BJJ

 Exercises to Improve Your Posture for BJJ

To perform well in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), you must master the fundamentals that ensure a balanced fighting style: base, structure, and posture. Though posture is not given nearly as much attention compared to the other aspects of BJJ, it is an essential feature that requires constant attention to keep your body in shape and ensure better performance.

a man doing BJJ
Maintain your physical fitness for optimal performance.

It does not take much to cause your back to slouch, whether living a sedentary lifestyle or sitting or walking incorrectly. If you do not take care of your posture, it will coincide with a gradual decline in your physical capabilities. 

Luckily, it is easy to correct your posture back to a state that can better handle the physical demands of BJJ.

In this article, you will learn tips on adjusting your fitness routine and achieving goals to ensure you get the correct posture suited for BJJ.

Importance of Posture in BJJ

A man sitting down getting ready to do BJJ
The right posture can make all the difference in BJJ

Posture in BJJ refers to how straight your spine is from the neck to the lower back when sitting or standing. Depending on the straightness of your spine, you should find it easier to maintain your balance when pulled or pushed and ensure better stability while grappling when standing.

Besides being useful when attacking or defending, good posture can also improve the flexibility of your spine. 

Stretching your body farther while grappling will help lower the risk of tearing muscle, tissue, or ligaments, allow more efficient movement, and generate more power when exerting your muscles.

Characteristics of Good & Bad BJJ Posture

BJJ fighters demonstrate the importance of good posture for balance and control.
Good posture is essential for effective techniques in BJJ.

Though there are visible clues that could indicate whether you have good or bad BJJ posture, you often will feel if something is wrong with your muscles, joints, and body parts before you see them.

Listed below are characteristics of good BJJ posture:

  • Vertical spine
  • Can move limbs and joints freely
  • Tall enough to maintain eye contact with an opponent
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Proper positioning of the head, neck, spine, and pelvis

Listed below are characteristics of bad BJJ posture:

  • A twisted, bent, or misaligned spine
  • Increased discomfort and pain in the cervical and lumbar
  • Stiffness at and below the thoracic
  • Reduced mobility in the hips, back, arms, and legs
  • Requires conscious effort to stay upright

Determining if Your BJJ Posture Needs Correcting

It is recommended that you have your posture checked frequently, at least once per week. It is best to ask another person to help evaluate the condition of your posture. 

You can check how vertical your spine and back are by following these steps:

  • Stand with your back flat against a wall.
  • While keeping your feet together, position your heels at least 6 inches away from the wall.
  • Have another person use a measuring tape to measure the distance between the back of your neck and the wall.
  • Have the person also measure the distance between the small of your back and the wall.
  • If the distance at either point is more than 2 inches, this is a good indication that your posture needs correcting.

Ways to Correct Your BJJ Posture

BJJ Training
How to Maintain Good Posture During BJJ Training 

The best way to correct your BJJ posture is by doing several sets of lighter exercises in a consistent routine as a form of physical therapy. 

These can include yoga, stretches, or basic movements, so long as they do not put extra strain on your spine.

Though there are plenty of drills suited for fixing your BJJ posture from physical or online guides, you can start using the nine suggested exercises listed below:

1. Downward Dog

The downward dog stretches and relieves tension in the calves, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and lower back.

How to Do:

  • Get on your hands and knees. Ensure your arms are spread apart at shoulder width and your legs are spread apart at hip width.
  • Spread your fingers and curl your toes under.
  • Brace your hands against the floor and lift your knees.
  • Remember to inhale and exhale between steps 5-7.
  • Straighten your legs and lift your hips, but keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Slowly walk your hands and feet if necessary.
  • Keep your hips raised for 5-10 breaths before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

2. Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch extends and reduces discomfort in the muscles at your hips, groin, inner thighs, and knees.

How to Do:

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent so that the soles of your feet can press against each other.
  • Bring your feet inward toward your hips.
  • Push your legs down as far as possible using your hands.
  • Straighten your spine and tuck your chin into your chest.
  • While inhaling, try to extend your spine further as much as possible.
  • While exhaling, relax and let your legs fall to the floor.
  • Hold for at least 2 minutes.
  • Repeat 2-4 times.

3. Wall Angel

The wall angel extends the length of and improves the mobility of the chest, shoulder, and abdominal muscles while reducing tension in and strengthening your back muscles.

How to Do:

  • Rest your back flat against a wall.
  • While slowly bending your knees, move your feet forward until they are about 6-12 inches from the wall.
  • Make sure that your shoulders and entire back are touching the wall.
  • Tuck your chin into your chest and rest the back of your head against the wall.
  • Lower your shoulders and extend both arms horizontally towards the sides.
  • Bend your elbows until your arms are at 90° angles.
  • Make sure your elbows and the back of your hands remain against the wall.
  • Slowly raise your arms until they are fully straight. Make sure they keep in contact with the wall.
  • Lower your arms back to the starting position.
  • Repeat three sets of about 10 reps each.

4. Archer Squat

The archer squat stretches the muscles in your inner thighs, groin, hamstrings, calves, and ankles.

How to Do:

  • Stand upright with your legs spread apart slightly past hip width.
  • Slowly bend one knee and lower your hips as much as possible.
  • Keep the other leg straight, extend your arms to maintain balance, and keep your spine as straight as possible,
  • Return to the starting position and alternate between legs.
  • Repeat three sets of about five reps for each leg.

5. Standing Truck Rotation

The standing truck rotation works the muscles in your abdominal obliques, legs, and arms and improves the mobility of your spine.

How to Do:

  • Stand upright with your feet spread apart at hip width. Hold and press a medicine ball against your chest using both hands.
  • Flex your core muscles.
  • Lower and pull back your shoulders without arching your lower back.
  • While exhaling, rotate your upper torso towards one side.
  • Keep the medicine ball up to your chest, and make sure your head, chest, and spine are aligned.
  • Turn as far as possible, hold for a moment, then turn towards the other side.
  • Alternate between turning towards the right and left.
  • Repeat 8-12 times.

6. Standing Lunge Stretch

The standing lunge stretch works the muscles in your legs, glutes, groin, inner thighs, and hip flexors. This exercise also strengthens your back and core muscles without putting excess strain on your spine.

How to Do:

  • Stand upright with your hands resting on your hips.
  • Take a large step forward with one leg.
  • Ensure the front leg is fully bent, and the back leg is fully stretched.
  • The front leg’s knee should be at a 90° angle.
  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-4 times.

7. Sitting Half-Spinal Twist

The half-spinal twist improves the muscles in the glutes, abdominals, obliques, back, chest, shoulder, and neck while improving mobility in your spine.

How to Do:

  • Sit with your back upright, and both legs extended in front of you.
  • Cross your left foot over your right leg until the left heel rests against the right side of the hip.
  • Bring your right leg over your left knee.
  • Rest your left hand atop your right knee while bracing your right hand behind you on the floor.
  • Keeping your spine straight, turn your upper torso towards the right until you can look over your shoulder.
  • Hold the position for about 3-5 breaths.
  • While exhaling, slowly bring back your right hand, then relax your waist, chest, and neck in that order.
  • Return to the upright sitting position.
  • Alternate between the left and right sides.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

8. Basic Bridge

The basic bridge helps extend the hip abductors, glutes, and hamstrings, which helps increase flexibility in the hip flexors and reduces discomfort in the lumbar spine muscles.

How to Do:

  • Lie flat on your back on the floor with your arms at your side and your knees bent.
  • Raise your hips while keeping your shoulders and feet flat against the floor. Make sure your head, back, and legs are aligned.
  • After the hips are raised as high as possible, extend one leg and lift one foot off the ground.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Alternate between legs.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

9. Frog Stretch

The frog stretch works the muscles in the inner thighs, groin, rotators, back, and hip flexors. This exercise helps strengthen your back muscles, ensuring they can better support and straighten your spine.

How to Do:

  • Get down on your hands and knees.
  • Place your forearms and palms flat against the floor. Make sure your elbows are underneath your shoulders while your knees are underneath your hips.
  • Slowly spread your legs apart until you feel stretching in your inner thigh and groin muscles. Make sure to point your feet and knees outward until the inside of your feet, ankles, and knees touch the floor.
  • Slowly lower your forearms to the floor.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly bring your legs back together to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.


Is BJJ Hard on Your Back?

Unfortunately, BJJ is often associated with frequent back pain due to the intense strain that initiating holds, takedowns, and grapples can have on your body, especially the lower back. Because you are constantly flexing and twisting your back while your opponent struggles to break free or keep you pinned to the mat, this causes a lot of stress to build up in your lower back muscles. It also does not help that increased tension could cause discomfort in the muscles and ligaments attached to the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine.

How are BJJ Base & Posture Different?

BJJ base is the foundation that keeps your body planted when exerting force when going on the offensive or fighting against force when your opponent tries to throw you onto the ground. Having a strong base will ensure you do not waste any movement, exert less energy, and better maintain your hold when trying to submit your opponent. Base in BJJ emphasizes resting lightly on the balls of your hands, feet, and/or knees. Meanwhile, your posture in BJJ can also help exert greater force, whether focusing on offense or defense, except the emphasis is more on a straighter and stronger spine and back.

How are BJJ Structure & Posture Different?

BJJ structure refers to the durability of your skeletal structure and emphasizes the movement of your limbs. When engaging in BJJ techniques, you rely more on the strength of your arm and leg bones over using their muscles. Though your BJJ posture contributes to your BJJ structure by supporting the weight of your skeleton, this aspect is more focused on the muscles in your midsection.


BJJ fighter
The secret to their success? Strong posture and technique in BJJ.

Whether you engage in sparring or real BJJ matches, your spine must be able to endure some level of physical stress before the fight is over. Though you cannot prevent every possible injury you may suffer when practicing BJJ, keeping your posture straight will help ensure better maneuverability, comfort, and durability. Correcting your BJJ posture can also reduce the severity and frequency of you getting hurt.

Author: Joshua Syn is a content writer at Elite Sports. He has written blog posts featuring tips to improve training, technique, and posture in BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. These blog posts help martial arts enthusiasts get into shape and find appropriate accessories for men, women, and children.

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