Gains and Minor Injuries: BJJ

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I have been consistently improving. Classes twice a week, reviewing my books and videos (mostly University JJ and Blue Belt Requirements) and my new exercise regimen has increased my ability to defend and gain positional dominance. However that same regimen has also left me a little broken.

I have a nagging shoulder problem, my neck clicks, my left knee has felt gimpy as of late and I believe I may have torn some cartilage in my left elbow last Friday. I was trapped in an arm bar and we both heard my elbow make a tearing sound. All of these ‘injuries’ have taken place in the last 30 days or so. In my quest to get better I think I have tried to accelerate when I should have slowed down and slowed down when I should have stopped.

My wife commented that we are training like athletes so we have to take care of ourselves the same way. I know it sounds simple but I needed to hear that from a casual observer to let it sink through. The most I do to recuperate is stretch and use Aspercreme to avoid cramps. I think I need to learn how to treat my minor injuries (ice, warm compresses, eating correctly, etc.) and start taking advantage of the healthcare plan I have. My brother suggested I go to a chiropractor when I told him about my neck. Maybe I need to look into that as well.

I may have to just go through warm-ups and drill so I won’t make any potential injuries worse.

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11 thoughts on “Gains and Minor Injuries: BJJ

    Matt Freedman said:
    February 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    if you end up going to a chiropractor, would you write a post about it? i have never been to a chiro and i’m skeptical. i would love to hear about your experience if you have the time.

    steve said:
    February 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    I haven’t found a regular routine with my chiro yet, but so far, I’ve noticed a difference between when I do go and when I don’t.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    February 18, 2009 at 12:31 am


    If I do, I definitely will.

    Wanderlei said:
    February 18, 2009 at 7:22 am


    Although I train in another martial art (not BJJ), I really enjoy your blog. And I can sympathize with your injury woes. I am over 40 and after each class (competing with kids half my age) I have all kinds of dents and dings. In fact, my wife complains that I have developed a constant limp from a series of minor injuries. But I refuse to take time off because I love my discipline, my art just as much as you love bjj. As one of my instructors said, “If you aren’t training hurt at our age then you aren’t training.” I get frustrated because my gains are constantly followed by setbacks.

    You briefly mentioned eating right. I have been struggling with finding out what “right” is for me. Do you eat differently on the days you have bjj class? Do you eat more before class? Do you eat less? Do you take any supplements?
    Thanks for the information.


    jiujitsu365 said:
    February 18, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for the compliment Wanderlei,

    Yeah, it is not as easy to make gains in flexibility and agility as it used to be. I know that it can be done because actors and music moguls like Woody Harrelson and Russell Simmons can touch their noses to their knees and put their feet behind their heads. I know many suggest yoga as preventive medicine but I can’t realistically devote myself to a class as I struggle to make it to BJJ.

    I am not the right person to ask about eating correctly. I am constantly searching as well. I do know that I eat less on BJJ days by default. I hate going to class on a full stomach and like to have that light feeling.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    February 18, 2009 at 10:19 am

    That’s encouraging Steve,

    I have heard many people complain about chiropractors as of late so it’s good to hear a differing opinion.

    neijia said:
    February 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    I sympathize as well. Turning 40 this year. I think for most of us, long-term pain free movement is probably more important than some short term gains, with the possible exception of elite athletes making millions. You want your body working well later, right?

    Chiro is good, but I’ve recently found good PT working directly with soft tissues to be great. Shop around!

    For general flexibility/mobility, etc., have you checked out Pavel Tsatsouline or Scott Sonnon’s stuff? Pavel cites someone who said around 40 or before, one should do 50-100 mobility exercises for each joint per day. These are basically rotations and bends. I’m working up to that… Sonnon’s Prasara seems more grappler oriented. Similar to ginastica naturale.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    February 20, 2009 at 7:01 pm


    You are absolutely correct. To be honest, this is the first time that I have been so banged up all at once. So now I have to go through the learning process of dealing with “light injuries.”

    The first name you mentioned sounds familiar. I believed I checked out his book on Super Joint Mobility. But either way I will check into both of them.


    raf said:
    October 20, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I think everybody hears more clicks after training, especially in the neck. My shoulder clicks have almost gone away by using a surgical band for rotator cuff exercises. But that elbow problem isn’t old age, its strategy.


    I’ve found I get less banged up sparring in BJJ when I focus on defense. That is I don’t even try to attack – especially on heavier opponents or higher belts. This allows me to conserve energy and slow down the roll in my mind so I can concentrate on breathing and conserving my energy level.

    Of course there are times where you are losing posture, etc… where you might actually catch yourself straining to defend in this case something is wrong. There is always a defensive technique (ex: putting your hand on his throat when he has a high grip in your collar and his sitting up on his elbow)

    And I TRY NOT TO use strength to defend against a submission – thats asking for it. If you dont know the escape, tap. It’s not even worth it.

    ludacris said:
    February 25, 2012 at 1:20 am

    bjj is way too hard on the body…..
    I was looking for a cool hobby that would make me feel good, not some dangerous activity that brings different pains regularly, risk of serious injury all the time….
    I think bjj is being a bit mistaken.
    it’s a great fighting technique but for a hobby I think you are putting too much on the line.

    jiujitsu365 said:
    March 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

    This post is from 2 years ago so it is hard to frame your comments in context to when it was written. However, I will say that grappling is not for everyone. This was written when I was going all out for a promotion. If you read further, you will see that I modified my behavior. I pushed myself too much, but that is not the domain of BJJ. I have done the same things while playing tennis, football and lifting weights. Common sense was my problem at this stage, as opposed to BJJ.

    As the post indicates, it is about minor injuries and that is typically what occurs during any sporting activity that involves contact. I have been grappling since 2004 and consider the sport a safe activity and I have only joined clubs and grappled with people that I consider safe.

    Further, BJJ can be called a hobby for me because I don’t have the time to do it all the time, but if I could, I would train everyday. I am professor (career) and do not find it reasonable to try to make grappling a profession or to win championships, but it is something that I have devoted almost a decade to.

    To each his own, though. Peace.

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