Jiu Jitsu Injuries: How I Trained While Injured

Published on by Samantha Faulhaber

I get it. You don’t want to stop training. Nobody wants to stop training. I’m here to tell you two things:

1.If you keep training through pain, you’re going to get worse. Probably in more places than just that area.
2.I was able to train without aggravating a tweaked knee with some diligence and investigation.

THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL ADVICE AND IS MERELY AN ACCOUNT OF MY OWN EXPERIENCE. YOU SHOULD CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY PROGRAM IN ORDER TO DETERMINE THE SEVERITY OF AN INJURY WHICH WILL GIVE YOU A TREATMENT PLAN THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOUR SPECIFIC, COMPLETELY UNIQUE SITUATION.

Here is a story for your amusement:

No-gi class, last Wednesday. Jumping around like a maniac, as usual, because I’m like a shark in that if I stop swimming I may die (under a pile of person trying to make me say TAP). I dive for a pass and suddenly feel a strain on the outside of my knee as I land. The force of my landing, at the angle I landed, exceeded the tolerance for force my lateral knee had. I sat out the next round to investigate.

Step 1: How and where did my knee hurt?
Put myself through full extension and flexion and found the spot it felt most uncomfortable. In this case, knee flexion at around 60 degrees, more uncomfortable when going from extension to flexion than the other way around. Then I checked internal and external rotation of the tibia (shin) and found that internal rotation was worse, continuing to narrow the “problem” area while increasing my knowledge of the situation. Adding the hip, I discovered the most uncomfortable combination of things also involved hip external rotation. Think what your bent leg looks like when you have a triangle. It was really quite a small combination of degrees of the insane number of angles my leg (and yours) could create. Now I’ve focused the image from “my knee hurts” to “my knee hurts in this range of motion”.

Step 2: Could I find a range of motion that was unaffected?
Further range of motion testing on myself showed that internal rotation of the hip, knee, and tibia felt just fine. In fact, I had to go pretty far into external rotation before there was any hiccup. Changing ankle or foot position did not affect any sensations, and neither did spinal movement.

Step 3: Rest
I did not train for 24 hours to see if the pain changed or if the area swelled. In that time I moved as much as I could in the completely pain- and discomfort-free ranges, continuously narrowing the problem areas.

Step 4: Work to get better by specifically using the pain-free ranges
There was no change after resting and safely moving through pain-free ROM for a day. Well, there was - it was improved. I continued to work those ranges, occasionally testing to see where the “safe” range had expanded to. I increased my internal resistance to help send a stronger signal to the healing tissues about what I wanted, which was full-range motion.

Step 5: Train
Since internal rotation still felt fine with plenty of clearance, I felt comfortable training with one focus: keeping my knee in the safe range of motion. Whenever it started to go out of it, I changed my position to get it back to good and if that wasn’t possible, I gave up the position. Training was focused on keeping myself safe, and there was no question in my mind that that was the priority above all else.

The future:
Now that I’m out of pain and just have a little stickiness, I’m continuing to train everything around the joint. Getting it back to the level it was pre-injury isn’t good enough, since that level wasn’t good enough to stop me from getting injured. I need to get stronger than I was then. This is going to take a lot of time and a lot of inputs to the area at a lot of angles to make me as resilient as possible.

Knowledge is your friend. Bring scared of moving isn’t going to help, and ignoring pain is going to hurt more. Your joints stay healthy by moving them as much as possible completely out of the range of pain. Pain is like a “danger” signal to your body, and will have negative effects on the way your brain functions in that range. Thankfully, the body works just great when you work about 15 degrees outside of discomfort and with proper inputs there will get better and better. Own your active range of motion, work it, and be more resilient.

 

 


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