Jiu Jitsu Injuries: Train Through the Pain?

Injuries happen in jiu jitsu. Always accidental, rarely serious, but they do happen. Welcome to the world of training martial arts! It’s not a comfy activity, and it comes with its share of risks just like any sport. Here at Airlock Jiu Jitsu, we believe that most injuries from training jiu jitsu are avoidable, especially when we consider that our gym’s culture values protecting each other. We work carefully with great technique, and we take smart steps for injury prevention including warming up. But what should be done when injury presents itself?

From the outset, it should be noted that jiu jitsu is a uniquely “safe” sport as far as martial arts go. Since grappling does not involve striking, especially to the head, jiu jitsu practitioners are able to work at near 100% effort with each other without risking long term head trauma. That said, accidents do happen, even in the relative safety of the gym while working with a teammate who prioritizes your safety. Typical injuries include fingers getting jammed, joints like the knee or elbow taking some impact, sprains in the ribs, back or neck strain, or the occasional headbutt. Most can be shaken off quickly, but some may still be sore for a couple of days. Heck, even the use of certain muscles in jiu jitsu that a newbie is not used to using can lead to extreme soreness

If there’s one thing we know about jiu jitsu, it’s that you can only get better if you keep showing up. A lot. So what is to be done when you find yourself dealing with a minor injury? Take some time off of training and hope that you can come back in and pick up where you left off? That may be the right answer in some cases, but we’re here to share some alternative options.

Before we go any further and our insurance has a heart attack, please read the following disclosure. CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN when you are dealing with an injury, and always follow their advice about what activity is safe and unsafe for you to participate in. We don’t even mean to sound sarcastic on this point: There are absolutely times where training anything, including jiu jitsu, is going to be unsafe when dealing with an injury. Please prioritize your long term health and do as your doctor advises.

That said, there are many ways to continue to work on your jiu jitsu even while dealing with a minor injury. In some cases where you can’t get on the mats, simply coming to watch class, seeing the techniques, and asking questions is a wonderful idea. We encourage anyone to do that. In other cases, though, you might be surprised to find that working through a minor injury actually helps you develop specific parts of your jiu jitsu game. Rolling while dealing with a physical limitation may lead to some creativity. In fact, Professor Rei Villa actually credits a groin injury that he was facing with helping him to develop his highly-regarded open guard techniques. You ever try to pass his open guard? Good luck.

You’ll hear similar stories from high level jiu jitsu practitioners if you ask. Sometimes rolling while dealing with a limitation forces you to focus on defending a sore area of your body – and that alone may help you find a new approach in your jiu jitsu. 

However you get on the mat and in whatever shape you’re in, there’s rarely a ‘bad’ time to train, doctor-permitting. Most of us on the mats are hurting somewhere. We’re sore, we’re tired, we’re bruised, but you’ll be hard pressed to find happier, more fulfilled people anywhere in town after some great rounds of rolling. Want to learn to embrace that level of toughness? Come on in and join us sometime. 

Airlock Jiu Jitsu. 303 Martin Luther King Dr, Bastrop, TX. Bastrop no gi jiu jitsu every day. 

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