How to make the most of an injury.
To a dedicated Jiu Jitsu goer an injury can feel like a death sentence. BJJ is more than just a hobby for many of us, it becomes a way of life, an extended family, a source of potent inner happiness and peace. Sometimes though, an injury will sideline us, even in the times we feel the best we are still vulnerable to this possibility.
Injuries can vary greatly in severity, amount of time off, and interventions for the injury. Outside of the normal medical interventions (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, physical
To a dedicated Jiu Jitsu goer an injury can feel like a death sentence. BJJ is more than just a hobby for many of us, it becomes a way of life, an extended family, a source of potent inner happiness and peace. Sometimes though, an injury will sideline us even in the times we feel the best we are still vulnerable to this possibility.
Injuries can vary greatly in severity, amount of time off, and interventions for the injury. Outside of the normal medical interventions (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs) there is often not much you can do to speed recovery of an injury, but there are some things you can do to help from losing your mind while you are off the mat.
1. Do EVERYTHING your doctor tells you!
Ice as much as possible, use compression wraps and elevate the area as much as possible. Also if you are able to do any sort of rehab, therapy, stretches to help the injury recover, be diligent and don't be lazy! Doing these things will get you back to 100% sooner than anything else. I can't stress #1 enough.
2. Keep using your mind during the "acute phase".
With most injuries there will an "acute" phase, where you will not be able to train at all. Depending on severity this can be anywhere from a day or two, up to several months. During this time you can do many different things to occupy your mind and keep progressing in BJJ: watching competition footage, instructionals, or watching class can all give you that BJJ buzz without hurting you further. Start a journal, try to remember moves you had a hard time with, or submissions you got caught with, watch your favorite blackbelts in competition and look for those spots on video; take notes and save your notebook for when you are feeling better.
3. Ease into controlled training as possible.
As you are gradually able to do more with the injured area, start integrating SLOWLY back into training. You can do many things without going full out in sparring. For instance: drilling, specific training, flow rolling, cardio, and strength training.
Cardio and strength training in this stage become an excellent compliment to your rehab/physical therapy. These can both get you back into fighting shape, and help increase your confidence in the stability of the area you injured. However you want to be careful not to make weights too heavy, ease back in slowly just to help get your body working again.
BJJ wise, drilling and specific training can get you back on the mat the most quickly. Drilling can be an excellent tool for someone coming off of an injury. Drilling can be easily controlled and is highly predictable, which makes it much safer than live sparring. In drilling you control the pace, intensity, and range of motion of your movements. Don't do anything that hurts or causes discomfort. You can also use specific training to ease back into sparring gradually, for instance if you have a rib injury, you could do some light sparring with a partner and have specific objectives; avoid instances of twisting your body, or having high pressure on top of you, work your passing and if you get swept start over.
4. Getting back into sparring.
As you get back into full classes and sparring the most important thing is to listen to your body. Avoid pain or discomfort, ice after training or if swelling becomes increased. Let your instructor and training partners know you have a recovering injury. If you feel pain just tap, start over in a place that doesn't hurt, or take the rest of the night off training. At this point you have come a long way, its important to preserve the healing you have already done.
Stay positive most of all, know that all things come to pass. Eventually you will be better again, take the time off of training and try to make the most of it in every way possible. Listen to your body and get back to training slowly!