Finger pain is one of the realities Jiu Jitsu and most grappling practitioners face sooner or later, especially the ones that involve a kimono and thus the gripping aspect. It is that gripping that causes most of the damage. Let us take a look at a couple of causes and solutions for these issues:
- Guard style. The first obvious cause is your chosen guard. If you decide to play Spider Guard / Lasso Guard or any other guard that is grip intensive, your fingers will pay the price sooner or later. Having thick fingers will delay the damage but you will still suffer finger pain, especially if you keep up with these guards. Paulo Miyao and Keenan Cornelius are only two of the elite competitors who acknowledged the pain they have in their fingers from the huge amount of grips. A solution to this is either to change your guard style or at least make sure you don’t do it everyday and give yourself a rest from it every now and then so your fingers get some time off but be prepared to pay the price if you keep it going.
- Going all out on grips. Even if you don’t use a guard style that relies on grips, grips will still happen. Make sure that you know when to release the grip and don’t go all out trying to stop the grip break, unless you absolutely have to. Keeping grips at all costs is what will damage your fingers over time. If your technique has failed you, release the grip and fail from there. Most grips can be broken anyway, it’s only a matter of time, not force you put in it.
- Try some no gi grips. Your fingers hurt? Give them a break! Try some no gi grips for a while. You might actually like it. No gi grips will rely less on fingers and more on forearm strength and placement and they slip out much easier, making it much less harder on the fingers. Most gi grips can adapted more or less for no gi so use this as a opportunity to learn no gi style gripping and techniques.
- Supplement! Your body needs resources in order to heal itself. The muscles need proteins and carbohydrates, your bones will be needing some calcium. Make sure you get yourself a good multi vitamin and mineral with plenty of calcium to ensure healthy bones and joints.
- You’ve probably seen people around the gym with their fingers fully taped and wondered why. Taping enforces your fingers and helps to keep them safe. Make sure taping your fingers before training becomes a habit, as it is a very healthy one. If the need be, you can also tape two fingers together in order to avoid straining one of them too much.
- If injured, rest and see a physician. If you hurt your fingers, the same advice applies as to any other injury. See qualified personnel and get a diagnostic. Although rare, there are more severe injuries to the fingers which may need further investigation as well as recovery sessions. If that’s not the case, make sure you at least take some time off to recover your injury, apply ice to your fingers if the need be and make sure to do some very light range of motion work with them, just to avoid flexibility issues.