GOING BACK TO BJJ AFTER A LONG BREAK
The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular forms of combat throughout the United States of America. The Brazilian grappling art has seen a membership growth rate of 20% annually which is only second to Boxing. It's no wonder, as superstar athletes like Gordon Ryan, Craig Jones, Nick Rodriguez, and Tye Ruotulo, have become famous on the international No Gi grappling scene. The rise of the No Gi formula has become even more popular than the Gi brand, as events like the ADCC, Who's Number 1, and Submission Underground are beginning to show their seniority.
What This Article Covers:
- The Main Cause of Injuries in BJJ
- Can You Still Train While Carrying an Injury
- How to Recover and Rehabilitate Injuries
- Easing Back Into Training After Long Breaks
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can take a heavy toll on the body of an athlete, with the rigorous strain of high calibre movements, and a high intensity of fast paced transitions. BJJ is a formidable form of Martial Arts that involves two combatants fighting for supremacy, as they battle for control through the use of grips and submissions. Training in such a comprehensive form of combat can force injuries to occur, as athletes can spend several months on the sidelines. It is good practise for an athlete to familiarise themselves with injury prevention methods, so they can minimise their chances of spending significant periods away from training.
THE MAIN CAUSE OF INJURIES IN BJJ
Injuries in BJJ can happen periodically throughout an athlete's career, as the main areas of injury are commonly the lower back, the neck, the knees, and the shoulders. Neck injuries commonly occur a number of different ways, with one of the main causes being when an opponent stacks the athlete up onto their neck. This can happen while an athlete is playing guard, and is even more common as an athlete tries to invert. Other significant causes of neck injuries can happen from the large variety of accessible chokes that can be used by opponents. Quite often in BJJ athlete's that attempt to choke their opponents, may wind up unintentionally neck cracking them, which is a form of illegal submission, that involves twisting the neck up or down, or from side to side.
Shoulder problems are another really common form of injuries that occur in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu matches. Athletes have endured through torn rotator cuffs, dislocated shoulders, inflamed bursars, and fractured scapulas. Being on the end of a significant shoulder injury is not fun, as trying to recover from such an injury can be difficult. Some of the main causes of shoulder injuries can happen when athletes are caught in submissions like kimuras, omoplatas, monoplatas, and americanas. Other ways that athletes will endure through shoulder injuries is with different takedowns, as BJJ fights always start on the feet. When two combatants attempt to take each other down to the mat, some of those takedowns have a high impact like judo throws, foot sweeps, and double leg takedowns.
Knee injuries are another extremely common occurrence in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as the ligaments inside the knee can often come under significant strain. Knees will always deteriorate overtime, as combat athletes will find that wear and tear will slowly break down their knees. Some of the more common knee injuries are meniscus tears, ACL tears, lateral tears, and fluid build up inside the kneecap. Older athletes will also suffer from arthritis, this is due to the high volume of work that the knee joints will do. Some of the more common causes of knee injuries happen through accidental moments, where athletes will step in an awkward position during the middle of a roll. They can also injure their knee during takedown sequences, and once again falling awkwardly, or stepping awkwardly can cause these problems. Other issues can be more controlled, like various submissions that can cause knee problems such as heel hooks, toeholds, kneebars, and ankle locks. Quite often these injuries will occur because an athlete will not tap whilst in a submission, or they try spinning out of danger in order to escape without properly defending the submission.
Lower back injuries are probably the most common problem that athletes will endure throughout their journey in BJJ. Training in an art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is always significant pressure on an athlete's back. Sometimes athletes will face off against opponents that can outweigh them by 50 to 100 kilograms, which can result in their back being overloaded, and can cause an athlete some significant issues. Lower back injuries can be results of takedowns, as athletes may fall awkwardly, or fail to brace for impact. Athletes may also find themself being stuck in spinal locks, which are illegal in most competitions, but nevertheless in training sessions, athletes can commonly explore these kinds of positions.
Other causes of injuries can commonly happen when BJJ athletes decide to add bjj and weightlifting together. Adding significant conditioning workouts on top of a heavy workload can cause a range of injuries. Athletes must learn to lift weights correctly, as using correct technique will bulletproof their body rather than exposing them to injuries. Other programs like cardio workouts, or a bjj kettlebell workout, can also cause an athlete injuries if they don't have the proper training. No matter what workouts an athlete decides to do, they must learn to do it correctly, so they can enhance their ability to train for longer.
INJURY PREVENTION METHODS
There are numerous ways to prevent injuries in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as staying safe, and protecting vital body parts is crucial to the safety of an athlete. The best approach that an athlete can take is to lose the ego, and remain extremely humble, as quite often injuries will occur when students do not tap out when they are stuck in submissions. There is no shame in being submitted in training, or competition for that matter, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an art that is all about slow progression and trial and error. Another good method of injury prevention is all about sticking to the fundamental principles taught in BJJ. The little things really do matter, like using frames correctly, and not leaving limbs out to be snapped up by an opponent. If an athlete can stay extremely tight with all their limbs, and not recklessly leave them dangling, then the risk of injury through submission is significantly minimised.
One of the smartest moves that a BJJ athlete can make to avoid any form of significant injury, is to appropriately warm up their bodies. Stretching before BJJ is fundamental, as all the joints and ligaments need to be warmed up appropriately before any form of high intense physical exertion. It is important to understand the different kinds of stretches, and warmups, as an athlete should do dynamic stretches before they implement static stretching. This means to use movement based warm ups to get the blood flowing, and the joints moving, before moving into a deeper style of static stretch. This will help prevent athletes from copping extensive, or recurring injuries. It can also be a good idea for athletes to utilise significant conditioning training as a way to strengthen their joints. This is another way to prevent injuries from occurring. Usually when an athlete receives an injury it is because there is some form of weakness in their bodies, this is why bjj conditioning workouts will help strengthen their muscles, and their joints. This will give the athlete a greater chance at remaining safe while training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
CAN YOU STILL TRAIN WHILE CARRYING AN INJURY
There are many different forms of injuries that athletes can receive during their training; these range from low impact, all the way through to the more high end scale of serious injuries. Most minor injuries can still allow athletes to keep training in BJJ, as athletes can basically just strap their injury with tape, or wear various braces or compression bandages. Some of the more serious style injuries can be a lot harder to train with, for example an athlete that tears the ACL in their knee will need to take some considerable time out of the sport, so their knee can repair correctly. Sometimes when an athlete suffers from a serious type of injury they will still train at their jiu jitsu dojo. Even though there may be some significant problems with this, it usually comes down to the mentality of the athlete. Sometimes the athlete can still come to training and practise techniques, as going through slow movement drills can be extremely safe. Athletes can even roll with higher ranked training partners, as most high level BJJ practitioners know how to keep their training partners extremely safe during real life scenario training. There will always be a level of doubt in an injured athlete's mind when they come back to training, and if they decide to take a significant amount of time out of training, this can affect the athletes' mental health. In most cases injured athletes will still train at an academy, as they are basically on light duties. Some instructors will tell their athletes to take time off training, as this will depend on the nature of their injury, or the mentality of their athlete.
HOW TO RECOVER AND REHABILITATE INJURIES
There are different ways to recover and rehabilitate from minor and major injuries. Some of the more minor scales of injury can be rehabilitated with simple physiotherapy, or massage therapy. Stretching is another way to recover from minor injuries, as most commonly, all injuries need to recover is some good BJJ mobility exercises. These types of jiu jitsu exercises not only help stretch out the muscles and the joints, but they help the athlete to build up strength in their injury. There are many different creams and medications that can be used to help speed up the recovery process, like ibuprofen, panadol, and other forms of pain medication, as well as various creams like deep heat, dencorub, or arthritis cream.
Some of the more serious injuries will need a more comprehensive form of rehabilitation. Sometimes this can mean hospitalisation, where medical professionals can tend to the injuries of the athlete. Some of these recovery methods include surgery, intense physiotherapy, water therapy, massage therapy, and long periods of rest. Recovering from serious injury is never fun, but sometimes can be a blessing in disguise, as the athlete can build up more strength then they previously had. Spending significant periods away from BJJ recovering from injury can be daunting, so it's a good idea for athletes to stay involved in their local BJJ community. This means they should still attend training every so often, and stay engaged with all of their friends, and training partners, which will help them tremendously from suffering from any forms of depression, and anxiety, from being injured.
EASING BACK INTO TRAINING AFTER LONG BREAKS
One of the trickiest parts of recovering from any form of injury is how the athlete integrates back into their BJJ training. After coming back from a serious injury, athletes often still have doubt in their minds about the stability of their injury. It is a good idea for athletes to take it slow, and ease their way back into training. This means starting off lightly, and refraining from doing any form of high intensity training. Injured athletes shouldnt be training bjj 3 times a week, but when they do begin to start training, they should be working on technique carefully, and rolling extremely lightly. It is important for them to talk to their training partners prior to rolling, and let them know they are only getting back into the swing of things. It can be extremely hard to get back into training after coming out of an injury, as one of the hardest facts to deal with is that an athlete may have lost a lot of their previous progression. Sometimes athletes can trick themselves, as they will discover their training partners are significantly better than them. Although this may only be because their training partners have been progressing while the athlete has been on the injury list. Athletes should remember at all times not to compare themselves to any other members of the gym, as they should be focusing entirely on their own journey, and their progression in the sport.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO PROGRESSION
Progressing in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be different for every individual. Some athletes evolve extremely fast through the belt ranking process, while others will move a lot slower. Athletes should not be discouraged in watching their training partner's progress quicker than themselves, as each individual has their own intelligence, and level of proficiency.
All athletes learn differently and it's up to each individual to maximise their learning processes, in order to progress. Some athletes will progress with exceptional skills, or significant athleticism, while others will progress through competition achievement, this includes winning world titles, or even starring in Mixed Martial Arts fights. There are many different ways to progress through the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but the key component is the same in all styles of progression. Consistency is the key, as an athlete that puts in significant time on the mats will give their instructor no other alternative than to promote the athlete through the ranks. No matter how an athlete's training is going they must continue to show up, and keep training, as every athlete will endure periods where they feel like they are not progressing. It is extremely important for an athlete to persevere, as sometimes what they need is to go through a significant Plateau so they can develop the skills they need to progress to the next level. Having continuity in an athlete's BJJ training is what will ultimately lead to them becoming a black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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