A Reader Question: Persevering Through Injury
“I am a blue belt that suffered a cervical injury that has taken me off the mat and into PT the last two years.
I had never heard of the injury before and have found some (very few) BJJ and MMA fighters with the same injury and would
love to hear recommendations and success stories from those who have gotten back on the mat. Thank you.”
Jiu-jitsu Times: Of course your physician and physical therapist are the best people to advise you on how your treatment should proceed and what they recommend that you avoid.
And you yourself should know your limits and above all protect your neck while you do bjj.
That said, bjj is filled with stories of people who have had to overcome debilitating injuries and later returned the mat to exceed their pre-injury levels of skill.
If you are recovering from an injury that is keeping you off of the mat in bjj here are 3 good practices that students of bjj should adhere to:
* Assuming that your injury does not forbid you from training again!
1) Do your physical therapy!
I shake my head at all of the students of bjj I have met who have gotten injured and FAIL to perform the rehabilitation work that their physiotherapist prescribed for them.
If you are serious about recovering and getting back on the mat you NEED to do your physio exercises!
This is not the time to be lazy.
The exercises may be boring or silly, but there is a reason that they have been prescribed for you.
2) Allow the injury to heal before resuming full rolling
I myself have been guilty of resuming training BEFORE the injury has fully recovered and re-injured the original…setting me back all over again.
It can be very difficult to sit and watch your training partners roll when you are ALMOST healed and ready to resume training.
Be patient as you don’t want to aggravate the injury and roll all the way back down to the bottom of the mountain.
This has been this author’s biggest training mistake.
3) Protect your self when rolling
You know what your capacity is and what your injury will allow you to do.
And that likely means avoiding certain positions in rolling.
Cervical spine injury? You likely have to forget the inverted guard.
You should probably be careful not to give your neck for a guillotine or fight the choke too long.
Sometimes you will have to surrender a position or tap early to save your injured neck.
Example: One of my former training partners – Randy Chung of the Kodokan Training Centre in Canada – has suffered 2 ACL tears and surgeries to both knees.
To say that he was devastated when the 2nd injury happened is an understatement!
Randy and his brother had just opened their own school and now he had a serious knee injury to deal with.
Like the disciplined athlete that he is, he went through his course of surgery and rehab and recently graduated to his brown belt!
Here is a video of a martial artist who has fully recovered from 2 ACL surgeries and is back to 100%!