Are You Hurt or Injured?

By Leslie Gardineer

Depending on your age, it is highly likely that you have started Jiu Jitsu with some existing injuries. If you started without any, lucky you, but don’t expect that to last long. I’m not trying to say Jiu Jitsu is overly dangerous. Many studies actually say it is one of the safer sports to put your child in and one of the safer martial arts for the “mature” adult. However, it is a full contact sport and you WILL sustain some boo boos.

Throughout your Jiu Jitsu journey, you will often hear things like “I’m taking a few weeks off, I hurt my toe” or “my neck is sore, I need to take a break for a while” and so on. Personally, I have only sustained what I consider “an injury” once in 8 years and it was a rare situation. In fact the rule “white belts can’t jump guard” would have helped to prevent my injury and likely many others.

About a year ago, my husband tore his ACL. However, he is a Black Belt and typically trains 2-3 times a day. It is very likely that you are not training the way a competitive black belt is, but it is important to consider the cumulative damage that practicing Jiu Jitsu can create. This injury, to my surprise, takes over a year to heal! Several times while he was out from training, we would run into another Jiu Jitsu practitioner (who just started or hasn’t been at it long) asking how the knee is doing, then responding with something like “ya I hear you! I had to take a few weeks off because I got arm barred really hard.” Being able to recognize the difference between a sore elbow from an armbar and a badly damaged knee is critical if you want to be able to train for the rest of your life. Part of this process will involve getting to know your body better through continuous training and part of it will involve putting your health in the hands of an expert and trusting their diagnosis.

In order to get the most out of training, it is very important that you are able to distinguish between the difference between being injured and being hurt. If you have an injury you cannot train. An injury can mean that you can’t walk, move, cough, laugh, hold weight or almost anything that forces you to take time off to focus on recovery. When you are hurt, you may have a broken finger, toe, be very sore, bruised, have gi burn or mat burn, get a black eye, or hurt your ribs, back, knees, or fingers.

If you took time off training every time you were hurt, it would be very difficult to ever step on the mats again. If you are Injured you need to recognize this and take the time off that is necessary to heal your body. Sometimes you do need to listen to your body while other times your body is a liar and you are just being lazy. It’s not always easy to know the difference, but sometimes your best training days are the days you feel the most beat up and tired. The moral of the story is, if you are injured, you may need some time off. If you are hurt, welcome to Jiu Jitsu! Tough it out, tape it together and get back on the mats so you can continue to improve!

What are your tips for recognizing whether you are hurt or injured? How do you deal with injuries versus aches and pains? Let us know in the comments!