Minor Injury? Consider Training Smarter to Speed up The Healing Process
Work Smarter to Increase Your Mat Time
I recently took a backpacking trip through Rocky Mountain National Park. Besides the amazing experience that it was, I learned something about myself. I have never been a runner, jogger, or really even walked long distances many times in my life. I was initially a bit nervous about the trip, because of these particular reasons. But while I was there, I hiked more than 35 miles through the woods, to the tops of mountains, and occasionally off trail through thick brush and dense forests. The interesting part about this? I never once felt like I couldn’t keep going. And also, to my great surprise, I really didn’t get sore either. Sure, I’d be tired at the end of the day, but there was something inside me more than just an ego tat helped move me forward. There’s a healing element to staying mobile that I believe is part of our genetic makeup.
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So, this isn’t going to be the article about being sidelined by a BJJ injury, and what you can do to continue to stay involved while you recover. There are hundreds of articles about rest, coming to class and just watching, taking your Dr’s advice and so on. This will be the opposite of that article. I feel that movement is essential to human function and recovery. We are built to stay mobile, not to rest, even in the face of some injuries.
The first thing that comes to most peoples minds when they get hurt is that most likely they will be taking some time off. And of course, there are serious injuries that occur where there is no choice but to do so. But when faced with minor sprains, superficial pains, things of this nature, do you really believe that doing nothing is what your body needs? I feel by stopping the motion of the body, we are cutting off its ability to repair and replenish. I’m not a Dr., but I did train BJJ yesterday. But seriously, movement keeps our bodies happy. It makes our bodies feel useful. So, when were presented with a minor injury, this naturally upsets the happy balance, and how do we help our bodies heal? By sitting on the couch for 2 weeks? I believe this is backwards. Maybe I’m wrong, but the more inactive I am, the more I feel all of my injuries.
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I was recently injured during a training session. My shoulder in particular. The moment it happened, my mind instantly went to a very dark place. It felt pretty serious, and I immediately started to create scenarios in my head about how this was going to slow me down. After a visit to my chiropractor, he thought that it was more than likely my supraspinatus that had been affected. We didn’t know to what extent, but he suggested that if there was no improvement, that I get an MRI in a few weeks. Of course, my final question was, “so, can I still train?”. His answer surprised me. He said “yes, definitely”. He went on to prescribe “pain free movement”. So, pretty simple. You can still train, just refrain from ranges of motion that cause pain, and be mindful.
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So, if your attempting to recover from an injury, and also stay in the game, should you work with people that have a history of going too rough? No. Should you roll with the same fury as before your injury, while it’s healing? No, probably not. MINDFUL is the key word here. Don’t let your ego perpetuate your injury. Be thankful it’s not more serious, and that you still have the opportunity to train. Make your training partners aware of your situation and work on improving the fluidity in your movement. And also, toughen up a little bit, this is fighting.
So, my shoulder is not 100%, and it probably never will be, and that’s fine. Its improved vastly though, and for that I am grateful. Id rather be an old man with injuries, stories, and experience, than someone with a pristine form and no tales to tell. Fighting is hard on the body, it’s fighting. But it will be my goal to alter my mission as the years pass to ensure that in some form I am always on the mat. And I hope the same for you.
BJJ black belt and Olympic Judo Silver Medalist Travis Stevens has put together a program with his strength and conditioning team and BJJ Fanatics that he is sharing with all of us. In his Movement for Grappling he brings us the complete program he uses to help keep himself on the mats training longer and harder. You can get it here!