BJJ Knee Injury – How long Will I Be Out With an ACL Tear?

BJJ is the greatest sport in the world, but it isn’t without it’s downsides. If you’ve been training long enough then you’re probably in better shape than when you began and the sport has probably improved your life. Just as you get into the swing of BJJ seems to be when the injuries begin and if you’re reading this you’ve probably suffered the most frustrating of all injuries; the dreaded ACL tear.

Some say that avoiding heel hooks will limit your chances of a knee tear, but truth be told an ACL tear can come from anywhere and more often than not they’re suffered during scrambles. Your recovery is dependent on the grade of the tear and in this article we will look at the differing prognosis’ by tear.

Grade 1 Tear – 3 Months

If you’ve suffered a grade 1 ACL tear consider yourself very lucky. The chances are you’ll get through this relatively easily. While your initial pop and tear might have caused a lot of pain, you will likely avoid going under the knife. You will likely be prescribed some rehabilitation and be back on the mats in under 3 months. Use this as a wake up call and focus on developing a stronger posterior chain.

Grade 2 Tear 3-6 Months

So you’ve got a partial ACL tear, it sounds bad, but it isn’t the end of the world and your prognosis is still quite good. You are going to need some pretty heavy physical therapy, but you might be able to avoid surgery and that will speed up your time to get back onto the mats. While you might start feeling better after just a few weeks, take your time with this injury and gradually reintroduce rolling. Ideally you’ll be back training hard around the 5 month mark.

Grade 3 Tear 9-12 Months

You’ve pulled the short straw and got the worst BJJ knee injury of all – the dreaded complete ACL tear. You’re going to need surgery, most likely a hamstring graft and it is going to be a long time until you’re back to full strength.

The international Knee Documentation Committee has four categories of activity:

Level 1 includes jumping, pivoting, and hard cutting.
Level 2 is heavy manual work or side-to-side sports.
Level 3 encompasses light manual work and non-cutting sports (such as running and cycling).
Level 4 is sedentary activity without sports

BJJ unsurprisingly is classed as a level 1 sport and this means that it takes the longest to get back to training in. Expect approximately 9 months of rehab and some strenuous rehab at that, but the biggest consideration is easing yourself back into training after the injury. Don’t rush it and risk another tear.

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


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