Jiu-jitsu and other grappling arts are contact sports. This unfortunately means that at some point you will likely get an injury. It is simply unavoidable. I’m really not event talking about the bumps, bruises, cuts, busted noses, and slight ‘tweaks’ of various joints, I’m talking about a major sprain, strain, or break that will sideline you for some time. How do you deal with this?
Injuries are obviously physically detrimental but few people understand the mental turmoil that accompanies them. People lose the ability to do something they love, often neglect exercise completely and change their diets, have insomnia, get irritable and angry, and feel like they are missing their social circle. Also as they sit out they realize that everyone else is getting better while they aren’t. I understand this all too well from personal experience.
Some strategies for dealing with injuries include the following.
(1) Find another form of exercise that you can do if possible. Always consult with your physician and/or therapist to make sure this is safe.
(2) Understand that your body probably needed a rest anyway.
(3) Come to the gym during class time just to help teach and coach. DO NOT try to spar or do anything that would cause a setback.
(4) Watch instructional videos and matches. You can often learn just by watching these. Keep your mind active
(5) As soon as you are medically cleared find out what drills you can perform and work around the injury.
(6) Understand that your ability to deal with the injury and come back is an exercise in discipline and will make you a mentally stronger person.
Try to minimize your chances of getting injured by training at a reasonable level and frequency. Get rest and eat properly. Find out if you have any mobility or stability restrictions that might predispose you to injury. Also, incorporating some resistance training (free weights, bodyweight, or otherwise) will tend to make you sturdier and less likely to get hurt. If possible begin at least a modest strength training program.
Brian Jones, PhD