Most Common Injuries in BJJ

4 min read
It’s only a matter of time before we get sidelined with an injury, but which ones are we most likely to fall foul of?

BJJ guy rapping his fingers with Monkeytape

Most Common Injuries in BJJ

It’s only a matter of time before we get sidelined with an injury, but which ones are we most likely to fall foul of?

Location: London, UK

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Photo by: monkeytape

Spend enough time around Jiujiteiro’s, and before too long, they’re all too happy to start reeling off their list of injuries. Worn by many as a badge of honor, injuries in jiu-jitsu are all too common. But which ones are you most likely to succumb to? Read on to discover our top 3 injuries within the community.

Fingers

First up, its fingers. Jiu-jitsu is a sport of grips, and before long, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to let go of that grip, hanging on for dear life, only to have the inevitable feeling of something ‘popping’ as that Gi grip gets broken. It’s only a matter of time. And for those proclaiming that you only dance in the dark arts of No-gi, well, don’t think you’re out of the woods! Leaving a finger idly lying on the floor only for someone to fall, step or bend is also well within the realms of likely.

The bottom line, fingers are an incredibly weak set of joints that feature in all the critical elements of Jiu-Jitsu, and you’re born with ten of them. Whether they’re getting pushed, prodded, twisted, crunched, pulled, manipulated, or scratched, fingers are prone to injury. And even after they’ve taken the time needed to heal, you may find yourself with the dreaded Jiu-Jitsu knuckle, a tell-tale sign you’ve spent a good portion of time on the mats.

Ribs

The popped rib may well be one of the most frustrating injuries to sustain on the tatami. It’s not until you injure the rib or surrounding area that you realize just how debilitating it really is. Notoriously lacking in blood flow, recovery time can be prolonged. Located in the prime upper body position to stop any kind of crunching, twisting, or movement of the body, it renders you almost incapacitated and firmly off the mats. Also, fundamental in the act of breathing, rib injuries truly are up there as the most infuriating injury to sustain.

Sustained in any number of ways (one incident I personally witnessed by yours truly saw a gentleman sneeze and sublux a rib), rib injuries are hard to avoid, incredibly common, and challenging to heal, making them our second feature in most common Jiu-Jitsu injuries.

Knees

In a sport where injuries reign, knees may well be the most feared. Juxtaposed against the fact that many Jiu-Jitsu submissions target the lower body, thus putting the knees at risk, protecting the knees seems to be a fascination for all involved. Notoriously weak, potentially disastrous once injured, a maze of recovery and rehab options, and almost impossible to operate once injured, knees are arguably the worst of all Jiu-Jitsu injuries. The knee structure itself is the largest joint in the body and is made up of a complex mesh of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscle, that’s significantly undersupplied with blood flow and highly susceptible to injury. Surrounded by mysterious-sounding structures such as the MCL, ACL, and LCL, which can all be rendered useless at the drop of a badly placed leg, the knee is a minefield of injury potential.

Many practitioners of the gentle art are all too happy to list off their surgeries, extolling their recovery times and proudly announcing the distinct lack of items that used to hold their knees in place; Jiu-Jitsu seems to create a feeling of when, not if, the knee injury will come.

So, what can be done?

Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. Whilst a certain acceptance needs to be made that Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, a combat sport, and it does lend itself to being more at risk of injuries. There are many examples of people training well into later age, some taking it up well after their prime. And with an awareness of age, body limitations, and a mindful approach to training, injury risk can be reduced. For those that do succumb, taking the rest and rehab seriously will significantly increase your chance of returning to the mats and training for many years to come. And if all that fails, there’s always good old-fashioned CBD, tape, and açai.

So, keep training, never let fear stop you, and be wise in doing warmups, strength training, and taking care of yourself so you can stay on the mats for many years to come.

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