Archive for April, 2011

On Injuries….

April 24, 2011 7 comments

So it’s been a while since my last post. I’d love to tell you it’s because I’ve been training so much that I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write anything, but unfortunately that’s not the case. The truth is that I’ve been dealing with a few injuries lately and my motivation has been minimal at best. It seems that every time I recover from one injury there’s another one right behind it. I guess I’m fortunate that they aren’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things but they are certainly debilitating at times and can take a toll on you mentally. Perhaps worst of all, in my case, they could have more than likely been prevented.

In the past 6 months, I’ve dealt with an injury to my rib (intercostal strain), a low back injury that had me on the floor for 2 days, and most recently a neck injury. All of these injuries have come from grappling and from my best guess, they are probably due to overuse and poor stretching habits. As a former personal trainer, it was my job to make sure my clients were stretching and doing all of the things necessary to prevent or rehabilitate an injury and maximize results. So why haven’t I been practicing what I preach? Because I’ve let myself get lazy….simple as that. Skipping proper warm ups and not stretching are sure ways to get hurt in any sport but especially Jiu Jitsu where we are constantly being cranked and contorted into impossibly uncomfortable and unnatural positions.

I remember one of my first few Jiu Jitsu classes at Claudio Franca’s; I was practicing a sit up sweep and as I sat up into my partner, I accidentally elbowed him in the lip. It just grazed him but was enough to draw some blood. My partner stopped and told Claudio he needed a paper towel. Claudio sent him to the restroom and told the class “Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport, sometimes you are going to bleed”. He’s right too, I see a lot of blood in classes from bumps and scrapes….but bleeding is easy if you think about it, you just grab a towel and wait for it to stop. The harder part is dealing with muscle strains, tears, ligament damage, fractures, dislocations, and a host of other potential injuries that await you in this sport that can put you on the sidelines for a few days to possibly months or worse…years.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent injuries as well as help speed the healing process and most of them are so simple we chose to ignore them until we get injured.

-DON”T SKIP THE WARM UP! We all have those days where we can’t make it to class on time, but don’t be the guy that shows up only to spar after everyone else has already been moving for an hour…you’re just asking for it.

SMR: It stands for self myofascial release. You’ve heard of people talking about getting “knots” in their muscles…that’s actually scar tissue built up from overuse and injury. Get yourself a foam roller and learn to break up the scar tissue in your muscles before you do your traditional stretching. Here’s a link to some videos showing how to use a foam roller.  Foam rollers are cheap and can be purchased almost anywhere that sells fitness products these days. If you’ve already used a foam roller and need something gnarlier try a lacrosse ball. Lacrosse balls are great for advanced SMR and can be used on large or small muscles in the body. You can get creative but I use mine on the floor for lower body and against a wall for my upper back and shoulders.

-Static Stretching: Everyone knows a few static stretches but most don’t know which stretches their body really needs. Most often people go with the stretches that are comfortable because stretching can be pretty uncomfortable….especially when you’re tight! Pay attention to the muscles of the lower body like the hamstrings, piriformis, adductors,and psoas. Most often back pain is caused by tight hip and leg muscles because it pulls the pelvis out of alignment. If you’ve never hear of the muscles I just mentioned I urge you to look them up and learn how to stretch them. There are some good samples of static stretches for the lower body and back here.

When Injured
-Stop Training!  Easier said than done but you don’t get paid for this….no pain no gain is bullshit. Stopping at the first sign of injury can help you get back on the mat much faster than letting your ego get in the way of taking care of your body (Did I just write that?).

-Ice/Heat: My chiropractor says the latest deal is 20 minutes of ice followed by 20 minutes of heat a few times a day on the injured area. The principal behind that is the ice helps slow swelling and inflammation while bringing heat into the mix relaxes the muscle and promotes blood flow to the injured area to help it heal faster. This method has been working great for me lately for recovery.

-Doctor/Chiropractor: Not everyone is a believer in chiropractic and I won’t try and convert you if you’re not, but having a good chiropractor, for me, has been invaluable. Getting regular adjustments (which I used to do but got lazy) can really help keep your body aligned and healthy. For more information on chiropractic you can check out my friend Dr. Coats’ website.

In Closing
I hope this article helps a few of you out there. If I had been taking the advice I just wrote down, I would probably be training right now! Remember if you do get injured to take your time getting back on the mat. Ease into your sparring and really listen to your body. Nothing sucks worse than taking 2 steps forward and then taking 5 steps back.

Thanks for reading,