Is Jiu-Jitsu Bad For Your Back?

By Logan •  Updated: 01/26/22 •  5 min read

Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial arts, which is a contact sport. Training Jiu-Jitsu could be bad for your back because it involves your lumbar spine being put under a lot of pressure and strain. There are ways to train in order to help support and strengthen your back but you need to take the correct safety precautions to do so. 

Read this article to find out more about Jiu-Jitsu, how it can cause problems with your back and if it helps or hinders posture. Also, how you can take the correct precautions to make sure that you don’t harm yourself during training. 

Is Jiu-Jitsu Bad For Your Back?

How Can Jiu-Jitsu Cause Back Pain? 

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that involves mostly groundwork. Unlike other martial arts that teach you to get back up after being taken to the ground, Jiu-Jitsu teaches how to fight, while on the ground. Many Jiu-Jitsu professionals struggle with lower back pain from several years of using their lumbar spine and pelvic area when on the ground and in full guard. 

Sparring, which is basically rolling around and wresting on the ground is when you are most likely to get an injury in Jiu-Jitsu. There are a few positions that could harm your back in this case: getting stacked, bow and arrow positions, twister positions and inverting. If you already have a weaker back then ask your trainer to avoid these positions and replace them with something else. Or, they can help support your back while you attempt to do these positions slowly and carefully in order to strengthen the lumbar muscles. 

Incorrect Form is another factor that can really damage your spine if you are not careful. If you keep your hips and core tight while training it’s unlikely that you will do any damage at all. This prevents the spine from getting compressed and causing overexertion or injury. If you don’t have the correct form you will find balancing and completing certain skills very difficult. 

Training with someone the wrong size can also create severe issues for your spine. You need to have a training partner that is o the same height and weight as you and then you won’t be overexerting your body and/or spine while training. If you train with someone heavier than you then if you try to roll and get on top of them, their weight would be much more difficult to move and this could lead to the straining or tearing of lumbar muscles. Also, if they were to be on top of you and put their weight in the wrong position it could lead to a trapped nerve or even a slipped disc. 

Having the right starting point is very important. Perfecting the stances right from the beginning gives you the best chance at being successful in this sport, and not harming yourself while doing so. Right from off, you need to have a strong posture as you build your moves from the basic stances taught when you first start Jiu-Jitsu. Bad posture during these moves will only lead to injury down the line. 

Is Jiu-Jitsu Bad For Your Posture? 

This sport is certainly good for your posture if it’s done correctly. If you start well from the beginning, learn the correct form and perfect the basics then you already are way ahead of most people that try Jiu-Jitsu. 

The basic form is the most important factor on whether you will succeed or cause yourself injury. If you can get the correct posture while training, straight back when in a stance and flexibility in the hips while moving, then you are working the right muscles that can help with a good posture. If you cannot get these positions right then you might be at risk of getting an injury. 

If you already have a pre-existing back condition you should consult a doctor before practising Jiu-Jitsu. If you don’t have a condition but sometimes feel some lower back pain, it could be due to weakness of the hamstrings, glutes and core and many people have found that once they have strengthened these muscles, their lumbar spine felt much more stable and strong. 

Many doctors around the world have said that if you already have good posture then doing Jiu-Jitsu could mean that you have to sacrifice this posture in order to achieve the best grappling and sparring moves. On the other hand, if you have a weaker back and you train slowly and correctly it could in fact strengthen the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. It’s important to factor in other life habits that can make a difference in your posture as well as doing Jiu-Jitsu. If you know you have bad posture, doing this sport could help you but you need to make changes in other aspects of your life too, sitting correctly while at a desk or while watching TV for example. 

Final Thoughts

Famous for “the gentle art,” jiu-jitsu is a martial art that seeks to use the opponent’s energy against them. It is also one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense. However, like any physical activity, it does come with potential risks. Concerns about back injury are common in jiu-jitsu, with some claiming it can lead to chronic back pain and even a herniated disk.

Jiu-jitsu uses leverage to throw opponents on the ground. It is also the most popular martial art in many parts of the world, especially in Brazil. Despite its popularity, there is evidence that jiu-jitsu is not good for your back, and may result in injury.


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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