Injuries are a part of every day life when it comes to training Jiu Jitsu. As Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, we are prone to being injured more often than people who train in more sedentary sports.
As long as we are rolling hard in these physical bodies, we can expect to get hurt from time to time when we train and especially when we train regularly. After all, BJJ is a fast paced, very physical martial art. There’s just no way to leave it all on the mat without getting hurt from time to time.
Injuries: BJJ vs Other Martial Arts
We can be thankful, though, that the frequency and intensity of injuries endured during BJJ training are typically less than what other martial arts practitioners have to deal with. Being as striking is not emphasized in BJJ, we don’t have to worry about broken noses, lost teeth or broken ribs as often as our brothers and sisters in the striking arts have to. However, BJJ does make us prone to some very common training injuries. Take some solace in the fact that these injuries are typically less severe than the injuries that boxers, Muay Thai fighters and karate practitioners deal with on a regular basis.
Most Common BJJ Injuries
What are the Most Common BJJ Injuries?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries that occur during BJJ training and competitions:
Bruises – With two people going at it, full force, on the mat, it’s only natural that bruises become somewhat of a way of life. With knees, elbows, heads, hands and feet rolling around and colliding on the mat, you can expect to get your fair share of bruises as a BJJ student.
Pulled or strained muscles – These types of injuries are common to every type of martial art and sport. When you move quickly and explosively during your BJJ training, sooner or later you’re going to deal with a pulled muscle. The most common muscle pulls happen to hamstrings, back muscles and groins.
Scratches – You can get scratched up a bit during BJJ sparring. When your sparring partners don’t keep their nails trimmed, scratches become more frequent. Thankfully, most BJJ instructors require their students to keep their nails as short as possible, to minimize scratching during sparring and competitions.
Cauliflower ear – Perhaps the most notorious of all BJJ injuries, this injury happens when the ears are subjected to repeated abuse. This happens as you roll around on the mat and your opponent attacks your neck with attempted choke holds. Some people wear the telltale signs of this injury as a badge of glory, but it’s best to make efforts to minimize repeated ear trauma.
Jammed fingers and toes – Your fingers and toes are very susceptible to injury on the mat. It’s not at all uncommon to deal with jammed fingers and toes. Taping these injuries up is an easy way to treat these injuries and to prevent aggravating them any further.
More Extreme Injuries
So far we’ve discussed the run-of-the-mill BJJ injuries. There are, however, some more severe injuries that can take place during BJJ training. These types of injuries don’t occur as often as the injuries listed above, but you should be aware of the potential for these more severe injuries as a BJJ student…
Joint Dislocations. Because BJJ utilizes so many joint locking submission holds, there is a risk of joint dislocation. Any join in the body can become dislocated, but shoulders are the most frequent victims of these types of injuries. A shoulder dislocation is very painful and can lead to long term shoulder problems down the road.
Bone breaks. Perhaps the most extreme type of injury reported during BJJ training or competitions are the dreaded bone fractures. While finger and toe breaks can be a bit more common, you may also see someone who suffers from an arm or ankle fracture during your tenure as a BJJ practitioner.
Treating Common BJJ Injuries
Being as the most common types of BJJ injuries are pretty tame, it is usually very simple to treat these injuries and to recover from them relatively quickly. Here are some basic treatment options for the most common types of BJJ injuries:
- Rest. Resting any part of your body that is sore, hurt or injured is the first step in treating minor BJJ injuries. Don’t jump right back into the next sparring session if you just got hurt.
- Ice. The time honored tradition of icing down bumps, bruises and strains is crucial to treating these injuries properly. Apply ice for 15 minutes and then remove for 15 minutes. Repeat this cycle a few times.
- Compression. For serious muscle strains, sprains and contusions, you should apply pressure. Either manual pressure or bandage pressure should suffice.
- Elevation. Injured limbs should be elevated to prevent excessive swelling.
You probably recognize this injury treatment regimen as the RICE method. It’s been used in sports therapy and injury treatment for decades. And while these steps are very basic, you should be sure to apply them religiously to minimize the damage of any injuries you have.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That may sound like nothing but a cliché, but it’s good advice. Here are some tips to help you prevent the most common BJJ injuries:
- Warm up and stretch prior to hard training.
- Tap as soon as you feel that a submission hold is properly applied.
- Use control during all of your practice sessions and sparring matches.
- Be cautious when partnering up with new students, as they may lack the control of more experienced BJJ practitioners.
- If something hurts, tell your instructor immediately and have the injury assessed.
Keep this information in mind as you progress with your BJJ training. Injuries will happen from time to time. But by being aware of the most common injuries, you can take measures to minimize the occurrence of these injuries and spend less time on the mend & more time training.
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