Sunday, May 9, 2010

Knee Flexibility

I know that to get optimal space when bridging, you should bring your heels as close to your hips as possible. Thankfully I have long calves (better angle on my bridge) but it could be better if I got my feet further back.

My problem is knee flexibility. I can get my heels to my hips when aided by weight (like sitting seiza) and maintain it for extended periods of time without pain, but without it, I've got about 8" of space open. I've started to notice this causing problems in other areas like getting hooks in for certain sweeps.

Someone pointed out to me that you shouldn't stretch joints, and this is something I've wondered about since I picked up Stretching Scientifically a few years ago. I guess I'm left with the question of whether my knee issue is caused by "flexibility" of the actual joint, or if ligaments around my knee are what the problem is. Since sitting in seiza helped me before, I may try doing that again.


A.D. McClish said...

Let me know what you find out. I have problems with knee flexibility as well.

Liam H Wandi said...

it is very cool that you're looking at this so early on in your BJJ career :) it will save you lots of hassle and injury further on.

I've been thinking about this a lot for my private session students. We often try to compensate for less than 100% perfect technique with a variety of attributes: strong guys hold stronger, fast guys pass the guard with speed and flexible people...well, bend more.

First, and second and third, check that your technique is perfect before you start addressing your attributes that fuel it. Here is an example:

You are playing open or spider guard. You are gripping both sleeves. You take your left foot and you want to loop it around their right arm (by making a clockwise circle) and hide it in their armpit (classic spider guard move) but they don't give you the space you need.

The thing is, if no one points out that by moving your butt/hips to your left you'd get the space you need for your foot, chances are you'll attempt to pull your foot closer to you to get it in. If they suddenly collapse on it or load it with their weight, that'd all transfer to your left knee joint. Similar to not shrimping out enough when attempting omoplatas and just pulling the foot up.

Always question the technique first before you question your attributes. they should come last so they can fuel a completely safe and sound technique.

Best of luck and let me know if this helps.

Georgette said...

Ooh, Liam, that's an excellent point...

I was going to say that the position you mention (prepping to bridge) is an odd one, it's harder for your muscles to pull your feet back closer to your bum and with really long legs, it might not be a flexibility issue, but a mechanics one. If you're flexible enough to get heels to bum in other positions, it might just be the angle, etc in the shrimping position that makes it tough.

Megan said...

I tried a little test by lying down, tips of toes touching a wall, heels on the ground and scooting my hips as close as I could to my feet. I sat and breathed for a while and noticed that the strain was in my calves. That got me to thinking that there is a slight difference between bridging and how I sit seiza. When bridging, the ankles are flexed.

I tried sitting seiza with ankles problems. Butt to heels. Tried it with ankles flexed and bam. Huge gap.

So...I went back to bridging, but this time, kept my ankles extended, toes only only the ground, pulled my feet as close as I could to my body. It got a lot closer. Then I tried to flatten my heel to the ground. It was crazy difficult. I felt strain not only in my calve, but also in my quad. For me, this makes sense, since I have crazy tight calves (can't do proper squats). So I'm thinking that it actually is a flexibility issue, just of my calves and quads.