Grappling is an unique hobby in it’s demands – it demands your full commitment, body, mind and time.
But once you’re hooked your life becomes a sequence of wake up calls where you contemplate will it hurt more to get up on your left leg or your right one. Rite of passage.. But also one that doesn’t really go away.
So naturally there are some necessary steps we have to take along the way to make sure our body can take the challenge.
One integral aspect of dealing with pain is rest and in general sleeping. Good night’s sleep is basically irreplaceable when it comes to muscle recovery. Of course there’s a unique set of circumstances that challenges sleep. If you can’t sleep after practice you might want to read on how to solve that situation or get some guidance on making the most of your nap.
Food can act as an anti-inflammatory medication. Recent research has shown positive effects that food rich with anthocyanins can have. Anthocyanin rich food is typically purple and red fruits and vegetables. One research measured the beneficial effects of cherry juice – they reduced inflammations, oxidative stress and some symptoms of muscle damage. Connoly and his coworkers did a research in 2006. that has shown that consumption of cherry juice before and after exercise can reduce average strength loss to only 4% (from the typical 22%).
Avoid daily use of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can blunt the gains from exercise while at the same time increasing the risk of stroke/hear attack. Dr. Rhonda Patrick was guesting on Joe Rogan Experience and she recommends using this type of medication for significant situations only.
Of course you can go to the source herself, clinical researcher Dr Rhonda Patrick and listen to her talk with JRE. Or you can just read the podcast notes for that episode here. She talks a good game, among it how various types of training influence the endocrine system, the effects of garlic, circumin and how she herself dealt with a bad infection/MRSA.
Another casual protocol often instigated is RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation. But what you might not have heard is that protocol might not be as efficient as it’s generally believed. You can find out more about this on the Grappling Central Podcast episode featuring Dr. Joanny Liu.
In one experimental study (Takagi et al 2011), the muscle belly of the extensor digitorum longus of anaesthetized rats was crushed for 30 seconds using forceps, to which a weight (500g) was attached. Immediately after the injury the rats were randomly divided into two groups, the no icing group and icing group where they lightly placed fine crushed ice in a tiny polyethylene bag on their injured hind leg for 20 minutes. The injury was then monitored from 12 hours later until 28 days later discovering that the no icing group had 65% better muscle regeneration than the iced group. The iced group was statistically significantly worse off following 28 day period and it had abnormal collagen formations where collagen fibers surrounded each muscle fiber instead.
In conclusion – “Judging from these findings, it might be better to avoid icing, although it has been widely used in sports medicine.”
Bear that in mind next time you ice a mild injury.
And of course : Never underestimate the relevance of a good warmup. Most academies include a good full-body warm-up before training, focusing on Jiu Jitsu type movements to heat up the muscles and elevate the heart rate. These warm-ups are great, however, not everyone is the same. Some people may need more of less of a warm-up to get going. For example, if you know your lower back is susceptible to injury, it’s smart to add your own drills and exercises before class.
The same goes for any personal injury-prone area you may be dealing with. If you had a bad neck injury in the past, take a few extra minutes to do some neck work. Or, if you just came from sitting at the office all day, dedicate time before class to loosening up your hips and thoracic spine. A good warm up should last at least 10 minutes and focus on mobilizing joints, stretching dynamically, and bringing heat into the muscles.
There have been numerous studies to show that strength training helps prevent injuries. Your joints become more stable, your bones become more dense, and ultimately, your body more resilient to debilitating injuries and setbacks. Always use proper technique and don’t lift beyond of your capabilities. Don’t go too heavy too fast, rather build up over time. Two or three sessions a week is enough to build strength and prevent injuries without overtraining.
It’s also smart to develop your small stabilizer and postural muscles at the gym. Although they’re not very glamorous, they will pay dividends in preventing injuries and combating the damage we do to our bodies on the mat.