Few things will test your resilience in BJJ like incurring a training injury that keeps you off the mats.
Just when you started to gain some momentum in your training and felt like you were making some progress – BOOM! – you get sidelined.
Apart from the physical discomfort of the injury, it is the downtime that seems to hurt the most. All of your hard earned gains seem to evaporate. Like Martin Sheen’s character said in “Apocalypse Now”:
I’m here a week now… waiting for a mission… getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.
You miss rolling and joking around with your friends at the academy. You have no outlet for your physical and mental energy. Frustration can set in.
Not to worry, though, because there are some things you can do to deal with your dreaded training injury.
Here are three of them.
Understand that it happens to the best of the best.
The top professional fighters are in peak physical condition, under the best trainers, and have access to high quality supplements. They can see sports medicine specialists and physical therapists.
And they still miss training time and fights in big events due to injury. It is part of the deal if you are pushing your body in a combat sport. It affects even the elite.
You may be able to do some limited training to maintain your skills and physical conditioning.
Your physician is of course the final word on what you can do safely; however, just because you can’t train as hard a you used to doesn’t mean you can’t train at all.
For example, if you have an upper body injury, you can run to keep your cardiovascular fitness.
When I had shoulder, elbow, and wrist problems, I would play open guard drills with the broken wing tucked safely inside my belt. I was able to get on the mat with my friends and still get a sweat going while improving my leg work in my open guard.
Also, make sure to perform your physical rehab! I continue to be amazed at the people who neglect to do the rehabilitation exercises that the rehab specialist prescribed.
Train your mind.
If you had surgery, then likely even the mildest physical activity is going to be prohibited. A friend of mine had ACL surgery and was faced with serious time on the couch with his leg propped up.
Do not succumb to inactivity and fill hours with Doritos and video games. Monitor your diet to avoid any weight gain that will make it more difficult to get back to 100%.
There are incredible BJJ resources out there that will allow you to study from the best in the world. Use this down time to watch that DVD series you’ve always wanted to see. Studying videos keeps your mind in BJJ. Besides, you can certainly learn from watching.
Black belt Shawn Williams said that he had suffered a serious training injury that prevented him from putting on his gi. However, he would still go to the academy and observe the training. Williams said that he benefited much from watching and learning, and his return after injury was smoother because he kept his mind in BJJ.
Injuries suck, but don’t allow them to completely derail your jiu-jitsu!