Just like in every type of sport injuries are unfortunately part of the training routine.
There are, however, 5 simple ways to actively minimize the risk of getting injured and without great effort.
1. Warm-up, Stretching and the Art of Falling
Even if it is often neglected, because there is a whole lot of much more interesting matters in a jiu-jitsu unit, a proper warm-up should precede every training!
In jiu-jitsu your joints, sinews and muscles are strained in ways that are not exactly part of the strains of your everyday life. Most likely your body will be unable to cope with the unusual strains, especially in the beginning. This will manifest as aching ribs, finger joints or similar symptoms.
Preparing your own body for these strains is part of every trainee’s duties. This should be followed implicitly in order to not cheat yourself out of having fun with jiu-jitsu.
Especially at the beginning every warm-up should include techniques to learn how to fall without hurting yourself.
These are well-invested 15 minutes, that will enhance your hopefully lifelong enjoyment of jiu-jitsu.
2. Weight Training and Drilling
Additional jiu-jitsu specific weight training helps to strengthen the body parts that are highly strained during training.
A good coach will be able to provide a great deal of exercises and workout plans.
This way a visit to the fitness studio or a workout at home can help your body as well as your jiu-jitsu development.
Especially if you’re working in a sedentary occupation many muscular parts of your body are unfortunately completely underdeveloped.
To strengthen these not only reduces the risk of an injury but also improves a dynamic and secure jiu-jitsu.
In order to train the necessary motoric procedures, there are specific drills during the jiu-jitsu units. This way you’ll be training not only physically but also mentally and thus, your body will be able to process the dynamic strains during your training more efficiently.
3. Good Technique
In my opinion, the best way to prevent injuries is a profound knowledge of the basic principles and techniques in jiu-jitsu.
When the trainee is able to evaluate the various situations and their body is well prepared for the stresses and strains through a structured training, even critical situations can often be defused by one’s own reaction.
4. Anticipatory Action
If you feel that a situation during technique training or sparring is unclear or if the used technique is completely unfamiliar, you should pause or tap and enquire.
There are some directional movements where your body allows only a limited tolerance to try certain things out. Moreover, some techniques lack the warning indicator of pain (e.g. heel hook), that makes you cautious.
‘Train hard, but smart’ or ‘tap today and train tomorrow’ should be your motto here.
Fact is, that training is more fun while participating instead of only watching because of an injury.
5. Extravagant Techniques and Movements
Movements and techniques, that your training partner doesn’t know or doesn’t expect, and that are performed unexpectedly and with full commitment, carry a particularly high risk of injury.
The resulting injuries are oftentimes accompanied by the culprit’s assurances that doing harm was not intended and that he just wanted to try something out.
That’s why I can only recommend to practice new movement sequences and techniques with an experienced partner and upon agreement until you have internalized the understanding for the potential risk of injury of these techniques or movements and are able to carry them out controlled and technically accurate.
When you then try to use the newly learned techniques against an unsuspecting partner, you have to be prepared for an unexpected reaction and you need to be able to break it up at any time!!