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Dealing With Injury Time in BJJ

Injury time is possibly one of the most depressing periods for an athlete, especially for BJJ athletes because we utilize our entire bodies. An injury in the smallest area, like a finger or toe, can really affect your game. If you’re a soccer player, a finger injury won’t be such a huge problem - you can still play. However, if you damage a finger in BJJ and you basically won’t be able to grip anything. So especially for us, most injuries can hold us back from training and when they do, it just sucks…a lot.


There have been several stories of how Brazilian champions would seek multiple medical opinions in order to choose the path that would allow them to train sooner, even if that path is not really the best option for healing. Injury time is just too difficult to pass through, and what makes it worse is that most injuries happen from the dumbest little things like not tapping early, or executing a strange technique recklessly. That’s even more extra weight sitting in the back of your mind because you know that it was something you could have easily avoided.


Firstly, you have to make sure you don’t get depressed that you aren’t training. Some athletes are strongly affected because it’s a big part of their weekly schedule. So there is a big void that has to be filled up. The best thing to do is to find an activity to fill in your training time. Depending on your injury, this can vary from doing certain exercises/sports that don’t affect your injured area to spending more time with your family. Whatever it is, you have to do something that makes you happy because you can’t dwell on the fact that you can’t train. And if you do something lame with your extra time, you’re just going to suffer more mentally.


Secondly, don’t slack on your healing process. One of the biggest temptations during injury time is to try to come back to training too early or do something active that may affect your injury. If the doctor told you to take six weeks off - take the full six weeks. If you come back too early you could easily reinjure yourself even if it felt like it was healed earlier. The amount of pressure placed on the body is totally different outside the mats. Just because pain is gone and you have mobility, doesn’t mean that you’re fully healed. Then what will happen is that you have reinjured yourself and you’re going to lose more time. Your six weeks of healing suddenly turns into eight weeks or more. So there is actually a high level of discipline needed during this recovery time.


A lot of people recommend that sometimes for injured athletes it’s good to come into class and watch some techniques. However, depending on your discipline level, it can get pretty tempting to jump in and try some hands-on training. Sure, it’s nice to see what your professor is teaching in person, but if you know it’s too tempting to watch your teammates training, don’t do it. It may be better to just sit at home and watch jiu-jitsu competition videos or instructionals on YouTube. Yes, it will also be tempting to train, but at least you’re not in a matted area – it’s much harder to just jump into the class and join everyone.


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