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Dealing with injuries in BJJ.

It has been said that if you practice BJJ and one day you wake up without any pain anywhere, you're probably dead.



After a while, muscle soreness, back pain, and joint aches just become part of life for the "Jiu Jiteiro". The constant struggle for survival takes a toll on our bodies but the idea of staying away from the mats, for however long, seems unconscionable to us. We are definitely willing to put up with these "small things" in order to keep rolling, but sometimes the bumps on the road are not so small. It is not uncommon for the Jiu Jitsu player to stumble upon some injuries. It's not a "Jiu Jitsu" thing or a "contact sport" thing. It's a "sports" thing!

The truth is: If you hang out long enough it will happen.

We all have seen or gone through herniated discs, torn muscles, torn ligaments, broken bones, and things of this nature. All of these can be serious threats to our Jiu Jitsu and in the eternal fight for survival, those of us who are still here, have learned how to deal with injuries one way or another. Here are a few ways in which people deal with their injuries in Jiu Jitsu:


Complete denial.

"I keep training until something is about to fall off."

Cyborg's statement here says so much about the popular BJJ mindset. Many of us just use the phrase: "This is okay", to completely ignore anything wrong with our bodies and put in just one more roll, one more roll, one more roll... (You know you've done it.)


Taking a break.

Some injuries legitimately require time off the mats. I know that this one doesn't sound appealing at all. Any amount of time off the mats seems like an eternity and it will affect not only our game but even our mental health, right? Once you stop training, it doesn't take very long before the mood swings start hitting and we certainly do not enjoy it. It's ironic but the best way to keep that from happening more than it has to is actually being disciplined and staying off the mats for however long it's needed. There's no shortage of mat-side stories of those who came back too soon and ended up getting a new injury worse than the original one. As a consequence, they now will need surgery and 4 months of recovery, instead of the original 1-month Physical Therapy. We cannot stress this enough: Finding a competent, qualified health professional and actually following their instructions can do wonders for your Jiu Jitsu and overall health.


Training around an injury.

In 1989 a Carlos Gracie Purple belt, Roberto Correa, commonly known as "Gordo", did exactly that and the famous Half Guard was born. With a seriously injured knee, "Gordo" elected to keep training and adopted the uncommon position as it was one of the very few things he could do. I am not saying everyone who trains around an injury will invent the next big thing, but since we all claim that Jiu Jitsu brings benefits that go way beyond technical abilities, why not adapt our training to the new and hopefully temporary circumstances, so we can enjoy all of that even if our technique suffers?


Time off by the mats.

This is a little bit of a hybrid between the ones above, and the number of people doing it is certainly growing. Just because you can't actually roll, it doesn't mean you can't train. Watching class may not be as beneficial as actually taking the class but it certainly beats staying home and not even thinking about Jiu Jitsu. Believe me, you are training! When you're there, you'll listen to your professor's explanation and reasoning for techniques and positions, you can probably ask questions, you can benefit from the questions your training partners will ask; You also know that you absolutely will stay around for that chat after class and, if you're lucky, another round of Açaí with your friends. Your brain and heart will be soaked in Jiu Jitsu and that can't possibly be bad.


These seem to be the most common ones, but I am sure there are many other tricks people use to overcome their injuries and stay on the mats.

How do you deal with your injuries? Have you ever had to stay off the mats for a while? Tell us your experience.

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