Jiu-jitsu is a combat sport that involves grappling and submission techniques. It is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of fitness, strength, and flexibility. While jiu-jitsu is a great way to improve overall health and fitness, it does come with its own set of risks and injuries.
There are many types of injuries you will see in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and one of them (in no particular order) is knee injuries. The knee is a vulnerable joint that is at risk of injury during grappling and submission techniques because it is often attacked by heel hooks and kneebars, and there are a lot of dynamic positions such as passing that can trap the knee and cause torquing to it. Knee injuries can range from sprains to ligament tears and many of the injuries we see from BJJ are meniscus tears and ACL tears.
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ACL tears are a major setback when it comes to training the rehab process is about 8-9 months, before getting back on the mat. Meniscus tears take about 3-6 months before athletes tend to get back on the mat but it all depends on the surgery, recovery, and progress.
Elbow & shoulder injuries are also common in jiu-jitsu due to upper extremity attacks such as shoulder locks, Americanas, Kimoras, and Armbars. Shoulder injuries we typically see are due to trauma to the area or repetitive training/overuse which range from sprains to rotator cuff and in some cases the labrum. Sometimes surgery may be necessary to repair a shoulder injury, but this depends on the injury. When it comes to the elbow, oftentimes we see tendinopathy or tendonitis that occurs in the elbow due to gripping and pulling that is involved with the Gi. Additionally, Armbars are designed to hurt the elbow and we often see elbows that “pop.” This is often due to the UCL or a ligament overstretching and it can cause a lot of pain or instability within the elbow.
While it does not need to be said, injuries involving the spine such as the neck and low back are very common. While this makes sense as much of the sport is focused on controlling a person and their neck, it often gets “tweaked” regularly due to chokes. In the neck, we see lots of injuries such as facet joint compressions, strains/strains, and herniated discs with nerve pain that runs down the arm or down the leg (low back)
In addition, the lower back tends to get compressed and while it may be the most common injury we see, the neck likely is injured a bit more in BJJ. The lower back pain you may experience from jiu-jitsu is often a result of sprain/strains to herniated discs and can be treated very well with the proper rehabilitation program.
In some cases, we see dead injuries are also a concern in jiu-jitsu. While head injuries are rare in jiu-jitsu, they can occur during training and competition. Head injuries can range from concussions. Those types of injuries need to be well managed as the brain has taken blunt trauma and the neck also tends to tighten up and create headaches.
Finally, another major injury we see in BJJ but not talked about is rib pain. The trauma and force of BJJ including its takedowns, knee on belly, etc often injure ribs. This can be as simple as intercoastal rib injuries, which are strains of the muscles between the ribs, all the way to rib fractures, and more commonly, rib cartilage injuries. These injuries can be painful and frustrating because they can cause discomfort, popping, clicking, and feeling unstable. When using your core, or trying to do an activity, the rib can often pop again or become unstable. These types of injuries often need soft tissue and extensive rehab. It’s important to note that even when healed, you are likely going to continue to feel this discomfort, so you should learn how to properly roll or train BJJ with a rib injury/pain.
To prevent injuries in jiu-jitsu, it is important to follow proper training techniques, warm up and stretch before training, and use protective gear such as mouthguards. It is also important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you experience pain or discomfort during training, it is important to stop and seek medical attention. We highly recommend you get on some sort of weight training program to help reduce the risk of injuries.
If you do get injured, give us a call! We can help as we have extensive knowledge in this field. The faster you get treated, the faster you can get back on the mats and we have seen this many times!
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In conclusion, jiu-jitsu is a great way to improve overall health and fitness, but it does come with its own set of risks and injuries. It is important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to prevent injuries. If you do experience an injury, it is important to seek medical attention and follow proper treatment and rehabilitation protocols. With the right care and attention, most jiu-jitsu injuries can be treated and recovered from successfully.