BJJ and the art of training through an injury

Grappling is an addiction. Once you develop a love for the mats, it is almost impossible to imagine your life without training. There are two unavoidable consequences of jiu-jitsu: you will get tapped a lot and one day you will get injured. In this article, I am going to examine some of the ways you can work around an injury and limit your time off the mats.

Before we begin, it is important to note that I am not a medical doctor and medical assistance should be sought before you attempt to get back on the mats after an injury.

Change your warm ups

Jiu jitsu is a funny sport and one of the most unique aspects that varies from gym to gym is the warm ups. Warm ups can range from running laps of the mats, to drilling, to gymnastic movements. When you’re hurt don’t feel obligated to do a high intensity warm up or do any explosive style movements. The best thing you can do is talk to your coach and explain your limitations and work around them.

Recently I tore a tendon in my shoulder and as a result I am unable to perform forward rolls or cartwheels. After speaking to my coaches, they have allowed me to only do warm ups that don’t aggravate my injury.

It is important to raise you body temperature before you train however as this is likely to help prevent the chances of further injuries.

Modify your game

This one is probably the most important and least utilized way of training around an injury. If you hurt your knee wrestling, its probably a good idea to change your game up for a little bit, wrestling on a bad knee is not going to end well. Like wise, if you have herniated discs, maybe give berimbolos a break while you heal up.

Prior to starting jiu-jitsu I tore some ligaments and developed a osteochondral lesion in my left knee, this limits the stability in my knee and my game has had to grow to protect this. I have found that playing a z-guard and using my bad leg as a knee shield has mitigated much of the pressure on my knee and has helped me continue to train.

Depending on your injury, there should be a way to limit your time off the mats. Perhaps you can still drill or even watch. There is no need to completely separate yourself from the sport.

Nutrition and body optimization

If you’re injured and deemed completely unfit to get back on the mats, then it is time to level up your health. Use your time off of jiu jitsu to focus on your strength and conditioning, use the hiatus to start healthy habits that might well speed up your recovery.

Recently I spoke about the benefits of leveling up your sleeping pattern but that’s just part of the puzzle. Eating a healthy diet will limit weight gain and also may influence the speed of your recoverya healthy diet will also reduce your risks of suffering from a range of chronic diseases such as heart disease.

Hydration is also super important in the prevention of soft tissue injuries and in the process of recovery as it helps to improve blood circulation.

The best way to work through injuries is to listen to your body and understand your limitations. Never push through the point of pain and if your ego can’t handle you being at less than 100 percent for a while then avoid any live rolling.

Use your injury as a tool to explore parts of your game that you haven’t used before and if you feel at risk make sure to tap immediately.

Looking for help with a BJJ injury? Book an online video consultation with BJJ black belt and osteopath Rosi Sexton.

Roy Billington

Author at

Roy Billington has 22 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy Billington