Jiu-jitsu hurts. Plain and simple. Most people that train even just a few times a week experience all kinds of aches, pains, soreness, stiffness and a whole mess of other unidentified ailments. Sometimes, we tend to glamorize the discomfort we feel everyday as part of the journey, but the truth is, pain is not and should not be a way of life.
Just a few months ago, I was doing a little Judo and landed right on the side of my neck. I got what’s called a “stinger” and unfortunately, it put me out for about a week. Since then, I’ve had minor to moderate discomfort and sometimes mild pain in my neck and I often try to see a chiropractor every time it starts to flare up (usually as the result of some funky muscle tightness going on in my shoulders).
Earlier today, I visited my chiropractor and we talked a little about how the life of an athlete is usually painful. The problem is, we as athletes don’t necessarily look at rest and recovery as part of the training process. Rest and recovery to the more “serious” athletes fall by the way-side because who has the time to take care of themselves and heal up, right?
As much as I love training and spending every extra minute I have on training… the reality of the situation is starting to become more apparent. The more I train and the less I take care of myself, the more likely I am to get injured. Conversely, the less I train and the more I take care of myself, the less likely I am to get injured.
The latter is not an option because training less is not even a realistic scenario here so where is the compromise?
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been placing more emphasis on taking care of myself.
A couple of months ago, I was the uke in a seminar taught by one of my professors. It was very choke intensive and of course, being the dummy, I got choked 1000 ways from Sunday. Unfortunately for me, this put a lot of pressure and strain in my neck. I saw my chiropractor once or twice and for whatever reason (see “excuses), I did not go regularly until the problem was fully resolved.
Of course this led to exacerbation of the injury and days off of training here and there while it healed.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a decision that everyday I was going to do something to take better care of myself. I made a promise to myself that at least 3 nights a week, I was going to get on my foam roller for at least half an hour in addition to stretching after EVERY training session for at least 5 minutes. Both of these seem incredibly easy but they are so easy to overlook and the truth of the matter is, for as long as we continue to overlook something as fundamental as regular maintenance of our bodies, the faster our bodies will begin to wear down and we will pay the price in the future.
I use Triggerpoint foam rollers to help me recover in addition to kettlebell workouts for other stability and strength exercises. Good nutrition and proper supplementation is another great way to make sure your body has what it needs to recoup its losses from the last training session.
Here are a few things I recommend you do in order from most convenient to least:
1) Stretch after EVERY training session. The longer the better, but for all of us who are pressed on time, take 5 minutes. Your body will thank you!
2) Invest in a really good foam roller. Spend at least an hour a week on it. Use it regularly and try to use it more often than not. If you cannot afford a foam roller, use a tennis ball or softball.
3) Start investing in seeing a massage therapist at least once a month although I’d recommend if you have the means to see a massage therapist at least once a week. If you cannot afford one, see step 2.
4) See a chiropractor! Jiujitsukas spend so much of their time contorted in all sorts of different postures and directions. I think you would be incredibly surprised if you got a chance to take a look at your spine. Mine looks like a piece of pasta someone just threw on the wall to see if it was ready (apparently this is a thing?). Chiropractors are such an incredible resource because they can get your body back in alignment which will really improve your strength and mobility. If you cannot afford one, please do your best to figure out a way to make it work. You will thank me! Mine is a life-saver and everyone I know that has a chiropractor agrees that if you have a good one, he or she is worth their weight in gold!