Injury, recovery and BJJ

I got an email from one of my students the other day, someone who prior to this week had been training consistently since he enrolled not too long ago. In the email he told me that the reason he had been missing class was because he tweaked his rib and he didn’t want to make it worse by training.

I told him not to be discouraged. Injury is obviously a natural part of jiu jitsu, especially at the beginning when 1) your body is first getting used to using all the new muscles in such an intense manner and 2) you haven’t developed the skills or knowledge of how to prevent your body from getting injured when rolling around in all these awkward positions by yourself and with an opponent. I also said it is a smart move not to be over zealous and to take the necessary time to rest and let his body recover from the injury. However, if he notices that after a few days/weeks/months of inactivity that his recovery is becoming stagnant by not doing anything, then that means its time to get back on the mat.

It is certain that the body needs time of relative inactivity to recover immediately after an injury. However there comes a point after that initial period of inactivity, especially when a person gets to be older than 27, that the body needs an additional push to get it to continue recovering and eventually reach 100%. This is the principle behind both physical therapy and weightlifting. When we do physical activity, such as jiu jitsu, we tear muscle fibers which then regrow stronger during the recovery process. Additionally, after we finish training our bodies release hormones that also aid in growth and recovery. Without these two helping hands its likely that the couch will only get you to about 70%.

So next time you’re sitting on the couch, injured, telling yourself that its a good thing because you need to recover, remember these words of wisdom and get your a** back on the mat. You might not be 100% but you’ll never get there without a little extra push. (The next post will be about how to train with an injury and how to prevent injury from happening in the first place).