You’ve finally gone ahead and pulled the trigger! You have booked a couple of weeks in San Diego or you have decided to hit up New York. Hell you may have decided to go all in and spend three months in Brazil! You have gone out and spent big on the nicest looking gi and slickest set of no-gi shorts and rash guard. Now you are looking forward to taking your place on the mats next too some of the biggest grapplers in the world.
But how much preparation have you done to make sure you return from your “traincation” with your health (and ligaments, and bones) intact?
Here are some easy ways you can help prevent injuries when you’re enjoying chokes n travel!
Keep yourself fit.
Grappling may look effortless to spectators, especially if they are watching some of the guys you are about to train with.
“How hard can it be to roll around on the floor?” They might ask themselves. “These beasts make it look so graceful.”
To the untrained eye, it might seem that way. However, anyone who has even taken part in an introductory BJJ class knows that this is as far away from the truth as possible. What you actually experience is much different! You understand already that even the lighter rolls are a serious workout, and depending where you are heading to train and what is happening, the rolls you are about to experience may come with an intensity that you have not experienced before. They will almost push all your limits, all of your muscles will be used, all of your joints will be manipulated, and it will test you.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to do some strength and conditioning training for a few months before your trip. The last thing you want to happen is to gas out after the first roll with a 10-time world champ! Even though this will happen, it’s always good to prepare as much as you can. The last thing you want to happen is to succumb to an injury which could have been prevented with a little prior preparation.
Jiu-jitsu is obviously a tough cardiovascular workout, which means if you’re unfit, you’ll get more tired and be more likely to fall victim to injury. In short: start your workout regime before you board the plane. Train for the trip; don’t use the trip to train. If you are in good physical condition you will retain more of the knowledge learnt on the trip.
Get to know your body.
Listen to what your body tells you. Often, larger problems begin with the onset of minor aches and pains. However, the tendency to ignore or wave them off as temporary ailments may lead to longterm issues. Gain knowledge and greater clarity on your body’s musculoskeletal health by consulting a professional. Simply get a referral letter from your GP. The physiotherapist at the rehabilitation center will be able to access your body’s current condition. Identify the areas you are lacking in. For example, point out which muscle groups to train, the type of posture to observe, and many more.
Take it easy.
You might feel ultra-confident after a few sessions and half a day in the gym. But don’t get ahead of yourself! The trip could be a long one. You want to make sure you can spend as much time on the mats as possible, and doing that effectively means training smart and recovering well. Don’t battle through submissions. If you feel yourself caught, tap early (as you always do). There is no shame. Tensing up and resisting can cause more injuries to your ligaments and joints if the submission is applied successfully.
Follow the rules.
There will be a code of conduct posted around the academy you are visiting. Make sure you familiarize yourself with it. If it’s not posted, ask the head of the academy about it, then learn it. Respect goes a long way, and if respect is shown it will be reciprocated in turn, meaning there will be fewer injuries for all.
Know when to sit out.
It’s tempting to always have one last roll, but the more tired you are, the more likely you are to get injured, especially if it’s deep into a tough session with a lot of higher belts. Take regular rests. As mentioned before, recovery is key to making the most of your trip.
Seek professional assistance.
It is easy to ignore pain when you are still able to go about your daily routine. It may be your body’s way of telling you to find out what’s causing the pain, be it a recent or recurring injury. Get an accurate diagnosis and right treatment by speaking to a professional. Not all injuries are serious, but it is important that if something is persisting and doesn’t feel right, you should get it checked out. Never ignore aches and pain. Even minor injuries may lead to bigger problems later in life.