Anyone who practices and trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over a long period time, will tell you all the little (or not so little) nagging injuries they have. From shoulder pain, back issues, neck pain, knees issues – the Gentle Art of Jiu-Jitsu is not so gentle in the long run.
We can train in a way that can help minimize joint pain and injuries by tapping early and often. adopt a strength program to create sort of physical armor to train in but at the end of the day joint issues will rear it’s ugly head sooner or later on your BJJ journey.
Your Knees Take a Beating in Jiu-Jitsu
Once such area of the body that will start to wear is your knees. From playing all the guards which cause a lot of flexion like De La Riva, Half Guard, X-Guard and more, to the actual attacks your opponent will try tap you with like Knee Bars, Ankle Locks and Foot Locks or just having your training partner put you in a Lock Down or Scorpion Guard (as John Danaher would say), your knees will take a beating.
Finally after years of playing Jiu-Jitsu and Kickboxing and having my partners stop mid roll to see if I was OK because my knees would make funny popping sounds, one day I was loading the laundry (the second greatest skill in BJJ) and my knee “felt strange”, popped and would not straighten out. I was really worried that my knee was F*CKED…. and I scheduled an appointment with a Sport Orthopedic Doctor that day.
The earliest appointment I could get from my medical/insurance network was 10 days out, so I had a lot of time to stress about my “injury”. I tried to play internet doctor and self diagnose my condition, which led to further anxiety on my part.
After thinking it through, I came to the realization that the doctor would say one of 2 things or even both.
That I needed surgery, and/or would have to go through a Physical Therapy regimen to help restore my knee’s functionality and range of motion (ROM). So Knees Over Toes guys was definitely on my radar before with all his cool instagram posts but now I thought what the hell it probably worth shot to try while waiting for doctor’s appointment.
You see even though I could not straighten my knee out I could still somewhat bend my knee. Enough to at least try a few exercises in the program.
I signed up the next day.
KNEES OVER TOES (ATG APP)
I downloaded the app as well and logged in. I was greeted with an intro video about the different types of programs other info. I then selected Zero program and went to work.
You see the ATG program has different levels depending on where you are out on your “Knees Over Toe” journey and what sort of equipment you have on hand.
Currently there are many programs in the App, but the first tab is Labeled “Main Programs”. These are the knee over toes focused exercise routines.
Under Main Programs you will see the following:
- DENSE STRENGTH
- FEMALE & MALE STANDARDS
There are other Mobility,Sport,Longevity Programs but I will talk about the specific knee program today.
Zero program is designed to strengthen and improve your Knee with as little or no equipment, basically what you could do at home or the office given the time.
The ZERO program is body weight type workout with alternative days of knee specific work and whole body work.
So I started with ZERO and went through and started my first routine.
The structure is basically as follows:
- 10 minute/timed backward walking with articulation of walking toes,foot and ankle with each backward step.
- Tibia Exercises
- FHK Calf Raise
- KOT Calf Raise – Calf Exercises with emphasis on Ankle Range of Motion (ROM)
- Patrick Step (a type of knee flexion single leg knee/pistol squat)
- Zero ATG Split Squat
- + Plus Hip/Hamstring Exercise Mobility Stretches to Compliment the Knee Specific Workout.
1 Month in My Results
So far just going through the ZERO program I saw within days in immediate positive impact on my knee injury. I was able to fully straighten my knee. What I felt was that after the first time going through the program I felt my knee was much better and that feeling lasted an hour before the pain came back.
The second, third, fourth time – each subsequent session, the knee pain went away and the feeling of my knee being 100% percent kept lasting longer and longer till my knee felt a 100% percent better all the time.
So much so that what I thought was a knee injury that would take me out of Jui-Jitsu for at least a couple or weeks I wound up only missed a few days. The doctor appointment I had set I cancelled (as I didn’t want to pay out of pocket for something I was able to fix on my own).
So far the program has worked for so much that I don’t really stress about any kind of knee position or injury while rolling as if my knee is bullet proof (yes this is rather naive on my part but that is how I feel after a few weeks in).
CONS of Knees Over Toes ATG Program
So some of the things I don’t like about the program.
- The backward walking portion of the program would be more beneficial if you have a some kind of weighted sled to drag behind you. I have seen some sled pulls for less than 200 dollars or you can jerry rig you own which I did.
My Home Made Sled
(Low Cost Options for Sled Pulls)
- Dimensions, Sizes & Weight: 26.5" x 8" x 16.5" - 10lbs sled with 2" diameter & 7" height of the pole. Max weight capacity is 90lbs. Strap length is 6.5 feet long & the waist of the harness is 29"
- Adjustable Resistance: Customize your training intensity by adding or removing weight plates to the workout sled, providing you with the flexibility to challenge yourself and progress at your own pace.
- Versatile Training Tool: Engage whole body muscles and enhance your strength and conditioning with this versatile sled workout, suitable for various training exercises for both indoor and outdoor workouts.
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- Fits 2" Olympic plates - Includes leash / harness
- Use on grass, carpet, or concrete - Little assembly required
- Weight: 37 LBS - Width: 16"
- Length: 24" - Leash / harness length: 10 ft.
- Leash / harness width: 2" - Finish: Powder Coated
- Size Info -Weight sled steel: 23"x3" x15" gauge and 1/4" plate steel;Plate tube height: 20";Push Pole Height: 39.5";Footprint: 24" x 40";Weight: 111 lb
- Durable Material-Our weight sled is made of premium iron with black powder coat, it is durable and easy to clean.
- Heavy Duty Steel - Our sled is made tough from heavy gauge steel, Red powdercoating provides superior grip and keeps your sled looking sharp workout after workout.2” wide weight plate holder to accommodate Olympic Plates for resistance and strength training.
- Strength Training - Pull the sled, tie the rope (or chain) on the sled, and pull the sled in the direction of the body. The center of gravity is low, and the waist and back should be straight like a tug-of-war to pull the sled close to yourself.
- Widely Application - Works as a push, pull, or drag sled. improve performance perfect piece of equipment to work on speed acceleration, speed, conditioning, and strength. Recommended to use on grass or turf.
You will need some sort of belt with a chain and some kind of container that can hold weight and be attached to your waist.
I read online that another hack for the backward pulling is that you can walk backwards on a treadmill that is turned off but there is debate that can damage the machine so if it’s your own or the gyms you belong to that can be a no go.
Of course in the program you could simply walk backwards, but I feel you are kinda of missing out without a weighted pull sled.
- the other big con to the program is the price. After the initial trial month of around $25 bucks, the cost doubles to $50 bucks a month. Now that certainly cheaper than physical therapy and/or medical procedure, doctor visits you could say it there is a lot of value for the price but for a lot of people and for an online program the price seem pretty high.
- Another very minor quibble on the app itself is that I wished it had a better walk through on the first and second day (checking off exercises and scrolling down to see the next day) was not as intuitive as should of been.
In the end though I feel the cons to the program are definitely diminished when in comparison to all the value all got in strengthening one of the most vulnerable joints in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which are your knees. I’m really impressed with the program and wished I had done it sooner!
Go here to sign up https://www.atgonlinecoaching.com/