The dreaded elephant in the room that CAN be uncomfortable to talk about but is NEEDED to be talked about. Injuries!
They are as common as shrimping and it is a pain in the butt to deal with. Without trying to discourage anybody from training our beautiful art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you can definitely get injured and some people might not have any idea of what to do after this happens. Do you stop training entirely for a little bit? You definitely can. How do you train with an injury? Believe it or not, we definitely have some diehards that won't let a little injury stop them from getting their mat time in. Even if it is something as measely as a sprained toe, or even something drastic like a popped rib.
Growing up I never did any sort of sports or much less a tough combat sport like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The first time I ever got injured in practically anything (unfortunately) was on the mat. This can be a little terrifying to certain individuals, and I can say that because I was that certain individual. Fret not, this isn't to scare you all, it is just something to keep in your mind. It is important to be aware of everything while you're training, and yes that can be injuries as well.
I think a big thing to do first and foremost is remember that it is not a bad idea to consult your physician depending on the serverity of your injuries. The coolest (or maybe not coolest, I am not sure haha) thing about 303 Training Center is that a lot of the veteran grapplers here have had a lot of the same issues that you might be experiencing. You would be suprised how much advice I have gotten on the mat not just about Jiu Jitsu, but also about how to treat certain acute/chronic injuries. Do they always work? No, but they were great ways to get me to actually learn real ways to PT yourself. It can be hard to look for real ways, and more importantly safe ways. You guys should just remember that it unfortunately can be a tiny part of your martial arts journey and is called a combat sport for a reason! This sort of post is just here to tell you all to not let it discourage you, and that the mat will be there for you no matter how long your injury persists for.
Here are some ideas to get some injury prevention out of the way. Remember, it is super important to be more preventetive than it is reactive!
1. Drink lots of water
I think the biggest thing and most not talked about topic is your hydration. Getting on the mat, sweating, and feeling dry can lead to some gnarly things on the mat. Making sure you are drinking your water BEFORE your training sessions can work wonders for your health. On days I know I am training, I always making sure I drank an adequate amount before. This makes me feel loose, and always ensures that I am not taking time away from my training sessions to drink water as opposed to actually getting some good mat time in.
2. Warming up, not stretching.
So theres a big difference between getting your body warm, and stretching a cold muscle. Some people like to get loose and limber before their rounds with static stretches. I like more of an active routine as opposed to holding. Your muscles are basically rubber bands, and what happens to a cold rubber band when you stretch it? It snaps! There are thousands of ways to get blood to your muscles. I personally love to do body weight exercises before hard rounds (pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, etc.) If you ever have a hard time coming up with a routine, try 10 jumping jacks, 10 open jacks, 10 cross jacks, 10 squats, and 10 pushups. I promise, you will feel warm, and ready to roll!
3. Putting the proper fuel in your gas tank.
Man, I love twinkies and cupcakes more than anybody, but I personally don't like to eat sugary and high fat meals before a randori. To be honest, I don't even feel the need to eat a lot before randoris! If I am going to eat, I usually eat some nice quality yogurt, maybe some eggs, and a little bit of toast. I think it is important to remember that food is very much fuel. The worse the fuel is, the worse you will perform. When that is happening, you will tend to push your body to limits you are used to with a healthy diet. If you push it too much, lets say muscling a sweep you usually succeed at, you might push your muscles a little too hard and end up injuring yourself. So eat good and remember, you are what you eat!
4. Stretching AFTER practice!
So this might seem a little confusing, stretch or don't stretch, well ya definitely should! A wise black belt told me forgetting to stretch is like foegetting to brush your teeth, it's bad! But this goes back to my second point. Don't stretch before, stretch after! When a hard training session is over, you might not feel it but you definitely will see how warm and cold your body gets over time. Acquiring a good routine after class can save your body. Your muscles are super warm and worn out, there is nothing quite like a nice little stretching routine to get them back in the same place. If you have trouble with ideas on how to stretch, just ask any of our qualified coaches to help you out! What I did a lot was used the heck out of youtube to get some great yoga classes. Eventually, you will find your own routine that fits your body and your needs. Nobody knows your body like you do, so make sure you listen to it!
5. Managing pain the right way.
There are thousands of ways to get rid of sore muscles without the hassle of having to use any medications. The most I will ever turn to is ibuprofen, but even then I don't really like using that stuff. Turmeric, ice baths, epsom salt baths, massage therapy, chiropractic work, the list is endless! I am personally a huge fan of deep tissue massage and epsom salt baths. If I am feeling brave, an ice bath is definitely going to help me a tons too! Over time, you will definitely be sore, so you are going to want to rememdy that as best as you can. Just remember to do it in a healthy way as well!
This last one should be pretty self explanatory. Please do not forget to tap! No armbar escape is worth getting your elbow popped and having to waste precious time off the mat rehabing, when you can be training! Tapping is the single most 100% effective way to prevent any sort of injury on the mat, and that goes for not just when you're caught in a submission too!
You guys are all amazing and thank you for training with us at 303 Training Center. Let us know if we can ever help you guys with anything, we would love to help you all. Remember to train hard, but to train smart!
See you on the mat!
Coach Eric Gutierrez