Should You Push Through Injuries?
By Alec Baulding
Injuries are the leading cause of students having to take time off of the mats. Of course, accidents do happen. That’s a part of life that no one can control. But there is a lot that’s in our power to mitigate the risks so that the injuries are not career ending. Starting out in Jiu Jitsu, your focus should not be on winning or beating your training partners. Instead, focus on developing the proper body mechanics and movement skill to keep you safe. Learn how to roll properly. Learn how to fall properly. Learn the proper mechanics of a squat. This will keep your body strong. If you have been inactive for a long time, you will have to re-learn how to move properly. Many students spend all day sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer. So it will take time to undo this.
Most new students get injured because they rush this process. They skip it because they want to get to the fun part, the rolling. However, they often over exert themselves in bad positions which then leads to injuries. That’s no way to start your Jiu Jitsu career if you plan on training for a long time. Take the time to learn the proper movement skills so you will be more in tuned with your body. This means knowing how far and how hard you can push yourself, and when to slow down before you get injured. You have to build this level of body awareness. Some people have it naturally and know how to move gracefully and have a lot of body control, while others don’t have this naturally and will need to spend time developing it.
You know all those drills like shrimping, rolling, animal drills, body weight exercises, and everything else your instructors use for warm ups? That’s what you need to do. Injury prevention starts with you. More often than not, you are the cause of your injuries; Being too stubborn in not tapping, not tapping soon enough, over fighting bad positions and not recognizing dangerous positions can all lead to injury.
Again, training is not about winning. It’s not a tournament and you have nothing to prove. You train to learn and tapping out is just another way of learning. You have to get out of this mindset that tapping is losing because that thought process will have you fighting long after you are caught in a submission. Your rank or experience don’t matter. When you’re caught, you’re caught. Just save yourself a lot of pain and rehab by tapping out.
Accidents Happen. Even if you do everything right, injuries will still occur. Maybe you try to do a knee cut pass and you tweak your knee or you try to lasso and start to feel soreness in your hamstring. There’s no way to eliminate all the risks from training but what’s important is to listen to your body. When something feels sore or weak, you should sit out a round. If it feels worse there’s no shame in asking your instructor if you can sit out or going home a bit early. Pain isn’t something that you push through. It’s your body telling you that something is wrong. If you keep training you might make the injury worse.
Although, it is important to know the difference between soreness and injury. Listen to your coach. A well trained instructor will know when and how to push you. Listen to them if they tell you it’s time to tap out. They are worried about you and would rather you tap out now and be okay, versus you having to stay away from training for a few weeks because you were hard headed and didn’t want to tap. The worst thing you can do when injured is to keep training. You might think you’re being courageous and showing how tough you are but you’re not. Be smart, the more you get injured the less you can train. No one wants that. So keep yourself safe and limit the crazy moves. Your body and your training partners will thank you.