By Lawrence from Rolls and Rehab, injury rehabilitation therapist and mobility specialist
Injury prevention is a commonly used term to describe the goal of training with the purpose to prevent injury in sport and daily life. It is worthwhile to understand what we must be aware of and adhere to when it comes to injury prevention, and principles that can guide our decision making when approaching our training. There’s a well-known saying: ‘Prevention is better than a cure’.
The reality that we have to adhere to is risk management. To think we can prevent injury is naive. The only way to completely prevent injury from occurring in jiu-jitsu is not do jiu-jitsu. Therefore we are working in the realm of mitigating risk. One important factor in injury prevention for jiu-jitsu – as I’m sure most of us know – is to find responsible training partners. Unfortunately, due to the often-chaotic situations when rolling, even when you are careful things can be outside of our control.
The predominant approach to mitigating risk of injuries in sport is strength training - improving the capacity of tissue(s) to better withstand load and produce greater force. This refers back to the previous post on strength training with specificity for BJJ. Being specific is what allows us to mitigate risk. “You’ll always regret not training in the position you got injured in” - Dr. Andreo Spina. Remember the Kimura example, in order to force the tissues to adapt which are usually stressed in a Kimura submission, we have to replicate a similar environment (gleno-humeral joint internal rotation). Biasing this joint angle, we can then apply our strength training principles to stress tissue to adapt.
Understanding how injury occurs can be simplified with a simple yet clever equation, taken from a Functional Range Conditioning (FRC®) lecture slide:
We know we need to be specific and the way we truly achieve prevention is through mitigation of risks that are in our control. Part of the quote previously used is so important I’m going to highlight it further: “the position you got injured in”. If you injure your knee in an element of rotation, how much are you intentionally training your knee to better rotate/withstand load/produce greater force in rotation?
Squats, lunges and running can build a stronger knee (and more) but they are still limited to primarily focusing on the movement pattern. Including tissue/position specificity with your strength training will allow you to better mitigate risks of injury. To clarify, I am not saying don’t run, as that can be a great tool, even in injury rehabilitation, but, it’s important to understand limitations and know how to leave no stone unturned if we’re going to truly mitigate risks of injury.