How to stay sane whilst injured

Last month, during a wrestling class, I acquired a knee injury. Thankfully I’ve not torn anything major, but I’ve had to suffer with lots of swelling and some strained ligaments. So, in this month’s article, I’m sharing a list of things that I recommend doing to help keep you sane whilst being injured and off the mat:

Sulk- Go on, feel sorry for yourself. Only a little bit though. Your injury is unlikely to be forever, so it’s all about passing the time as painlessly as possible.

Rest, then rehab- For 3 days, I did nothing. I could not walk. As soon as I could walk, I went to the GP, who ultimately referred me to the Physio. Since then, I have been back 3 times, each time my knee improving through the different stretches she gave me. Making sure your injury is rehabbed properly will ensure you have strengthened any weaknesses, and will help prevent the injury happening again.

Watch Videos- Being injured is the perfect chance to catch up on watching some technique videos. Whether you own a DVD set, or like watching demonstrations online, watching techniques is a way of keeping your Jiu Jitsu mind-set whilst not being able to roll yourself. Make a list of positions or techniques you want to try out when you are back at training.

Make notes- Whilst it can be very frustrating not being able to fully practice techniques, you can still learn a lot from watching. Avoiding the gym for the duration of your injury will set you back further when you do return to the mat. Take a notepad to training, and note down the techniques your instructor is showing. Writing a technique down, well enough for others to understand and try it out, really requires you to think about the smallest details. Making sure you mention every grip, hip positioning, foot placement- it’s harder than you think! It gives you something to refer to, if you forget a technique and gives you techniques to work on once you get back on the mat (it also helps you keep up to date with the techniques your team mates have been working on, so you don’t get left behind!). I strongly recommend it.

Make a mini gym- Got a spare room? Mine was full of junk. Not any more! I now have a matted out spare room with a zebra roll out mat (bought from www.fightnfitmma.co.uk). It’s big enough to practice basic movements like shrimping, sit outs, and rolls on, as well as big enough to drill techniques on any willing friend/sibling/pet without getting any carpet burns. Not only has it been a great piece of equipment to use whilst rehabbing an injury, but it is something that can be used continually on days when there is no training. Definitely worth considering, if you have the space and cash.

Make grappling dummy– Despite it looking like something from a child’s nightmare, “Flavio”- my grappling dummy, was a creation I made whilst injured. I was inspired by a video I had seen online of someone who had made a one using plastic tubing, wire coat hangers, foam, padding and a tonne of duct tape. How hard could it be? It took me a couple of days, but the end product has held up really well. It cost about £30 in materials, compared that to around £200 for a manufactured grappling dummy. “Flavio” now lives in my matted-out spare room (which I lock overnight for my own safety).

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Make yourself useful– Where I train, at Fightworx Academy, we have the aptly named “cripple corner”. It’s where all the guys with injured knees/shoulders/backs all congregate come rolling time. Our coach likes to use us to go around and help the newer guys, make sure people are not bumping into each other, and on some occasions, have a go at reffing some fights. Ask your instructor if there is anything you can do to help. Getting involved is much more enjoyable than bitterly watching uninjured people roll, or sobbing quietly in the corner.

Watch your diet– Going from training anything upwards of 3/4 times a week, to not at all, may start to influence your weight. You won’t need to consume as many calories if you are not burning them them off as much. Baring this in mind, it may be worth monitoring your weight for the length of your injury and adapting your diet accordingly, unless your aim is to move up a weight category!

Work-out- There are still plenty of other ways you can get a workout in when injured. After about a week I could start to bend my knee a little. This opened up a range of movements I could try at the gym; kettlebell swings, snatches, presses and cleans. Not to mention generally training around your injury, which for me were movements like chest presses, pull ups and push ups. Look, If Mill Hill’s Dan Strauss can train with a broken back, you sure as hell can still workout with your injury too!

Train smart- Finally, you are fit enough to get back to training. When this time comes, don’t mess it up. You will have to be realistic. Start with the odd technique, or drill, but sit out of anything if your injury plays up. You need to listen to your body. Making good judgments when it comes to picking training partners will be vital. Consider only rolling with people you are confident will respect you, your injury, and what you are trying to achieve during the roll. The last thing you want to do is re-injury yourself and be out of training even longer.

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