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Student Case Study: Improved Athletic Performance


Background: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a modern combat martial art that utilizes joint locks to force an opponent into submission. It is a high intensity combat sport that places unique stresses on the body leading to atypical injuries and muscular imbalance, a possible predictor of injury. Athletes with a history of low back pain have significant reductions in hip range of motion, and maximum hip flexibility is necessary to perform optimally.


40-year-old Caucasian male Jiu Jitsu black belt presenting with restricted range of motion in the right shoulder and both hips as well as left SI joint and posterior gluteal pain

Diagnosis: Herniated L4-5 disc with no other notable health issues

Purpose: To discover if the utilization of massage can increase the performance of a BJJ athlete by increasing range of motion and decreasing pain

Intervention: The practitioner a 25 year old female within 3 months of the end of her third semester of a three-semester, 18-month program at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS). Biweekly targeted, deep-tissue massage treatments were performed for five weeks. The results were tracked using the Bournemouth MSK scale, PGIC, WOSI, active range of motion measurements measured with a goniometer, and routine Posturology assessments

Results: There was significant improvement in range of motion in the shoulder, elbow, and both hips as well as eliminated SI joint pain and some diminished pain in the posterior gluteal area. The patient also claimed to have experienced improved performance in BJJ training.

Conclusion: Specific, directed massage techniques were able to increase range of motion and improve athletic performance in one BJJ athlete. A extenuating factor for pain reduction included an abnormally intense and frequent training regimen for an upcoming tournament. Further research needs to be done in order to ascertain if increasing range of motion and decreasing pain is effective in increasing athletic performance.

Keywords: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, range of motion, shoulder, hips, elbow, case report

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