What Are the Long Term Side Effects of Gripping in Jiu-Jitsu & Judo?

What Are the Long Term Side Effects of Gripping in Jiu-Jitsu & Judo?

Guest post by Dr Kickass, Mike Piekarski, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Former MMA Fighter, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Follow him on instagram.

Jiu Jitsu Fingers: Consequences of Gripping

Establishing the proper grip is integral to initiating offense in grappling arts, specifically those where jackets are involved such as brazilian jiu jitsu, judo and sambo. Many matches are won based on who is able to achieve their intended grips to allow for the throw, choke, sweep or guard pass. Because grips are so important it is not surprising that many grapplers have a history of finger pains and aches.


Anatomy of the finger:

There are three joints of the finger:

1️⃣Metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP joint)
2️⃣Proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP joint)
3️⃣Distal interphalangeal joint (DIP joint)
4️⃣Carpometacarpal joint (CMC) Thumb only.

The joints involved with grip injuries are often the PIP and DIP joints. The volar plate and collateral ligaments help to stabilize the PIP and DIP joints. The volar plate is a ligament on the front of the knuckle to prevent hyperextension and the collateral ligaments are on the sides of the joint to prevent side bending. Most finger injuries begin with damage to these ligaments: sprains which mean the ligaments are stretched or have partial tears. If the ligament ruptures then dislocations can happen.

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis: With repetitive stress, multiple sprains and/or dislocations the joints will begin to develop arthritis. Signs often begin with stiffness, general aches and restrict movement. As the arthritis progresses there will be increased laxity/instability followed by limited mobility. In the later stages you may notice enlarged joints.

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