I personally believe Judo and BJJ and grappling in general are one of the best gifts you can give to a growing child; it will be instrumental for their development into a decent human being.
So you can tell I love grappling. A self-confessed nerd, I am.
BUT. There is a downside. The injury risk in grappling arts is quite insanely high, especially with traditional training methods (1: Randori, 2: Randori and 3: more Randori). Randori is sparring.
Imagine a Muay Thai fighter doing full-contact sparring 4x week. Well, not for long. And I’d argue that overall, grappling can be way more damaging than even Thai Boxing.
Working with top athletes, my main maxim is ‘Train hard, train smart‘.
Because every idiot can train hard – I’m not impressed. ‘Gimme 50!! Gimme 50 more!’ So what. ‘DUH!’
No, to get to the peak of your potential, you need to train for a looong time. And that’s just not happening when injury creeps in more and more frequently.
This is a factor usually overlooked by most trainees. Look, here’s a very common scenario:
They might decide that, ‘NOW I will train hard and eat right and do everything it takes!’ A good approach, and progress comes with it.
But then, BOOM!! Injury strikes, and they’re just out, sometimes for a long time, sometimes for good.
Because they did not do everything it takes.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to work out dedicatedly, eat clean, sleep well, and show up every time, doing more than the next guy.
That attitude in itself -doing more than the next guy- can be a major mistake.
Because recovery is just as important as training. Think about it: the best program in the world isn’t going to do much good if you don’t recover from it.
And then, there’s injury prevention. Doing the right prehab work at the start and throughout will pay big dividends for the future.
So for a complete -and smart- approach, here some major points to keep in mind for a long and relatively injury free grappling career…
1. Do not over train. Yes, yes, yes, overtraining is real. Don’t get suckered by some juiced up steroid monkey on YouTube claiming otherwise.
Even with the 3 gallons of steroids they inject a day, they, too, get over trained.
2. Do not neglect stretching. I know it’s boring, it hurts, and it takes time. But it’s Oh-So-Important. No stretching, and an injury is pre-programmed into your program, as it were.
A stiff hip for instance is the prelude for a sure lower back injury.
3. Don’t forget foam rolling. It’s near miraculous what this simple device can do for you, prehab, rehab and performance enhancement-wise. Please use it.
4. Strengthen vulnerable areas. Hands/grip, elbow, shoulder, neck, lower back, knee, ankle. Did I forget something? Because Judo has HIGH instances of injury in all of these!
The whole body, basically. These areas need specialized attention if you want to stay healthy.
5. Make sure of recovery.
-Quality sleep in adequate quantity is where it all starts. Sauna, steam bath, hot tubs help a lot.
-A deep massage at least once weekly is basically a must.
-Proper high carbohydrate nutrition will fuel your workouts and recovery.
-And, at regular intervals, take some time out. It will freshen body and mind.
Now you might say: ‘Mark, it’s all good and well to complain, but HOW exactly should I do all that stuff you mentioned?’
And I come back wittingly with this reply: ‘Hey, do I have all day? Or you, for that matter, to read a 7-mile-long post?’ ?
No I’m kidding, but what I mean is this: it would explode this article here to where nobody would read it, because it’s simply too long.
So I might go into detail on some or all the above sometime later on. Probably one article per each point.
OK until then, please train hard and smart and I sincerely hope you stay injury free!
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