Need Advice: Frequent injuries and my future in BJJ…

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    (Wall of text apology here)

    Background: I’m in my fifties, overweight by 40 pounds (though given what my ideal “fighting weight” should be, I’m closer to 55-60 pounds overweight) but in otherwise decent condition with no history of serious injury that requires hospitalization or extended medical attention.

    Here’s the thing: I really love BJJ. I’d go everyday if I could. Problem is, every class or open mat leaves me “non-functional” — either my knees are so boinked I can barely jog to the do the warmup; or my elbow/shoulder tendinitis is so bad my arms function at 50% mobility; or like yesterday I came home with my back in spasm so badly I can’t stand-up straight, can’t bend at the waist, can’t even move without feeling like I want to pass out. These conditions improve over time, but often I need to take a full week or more off just to get functional again, let alone considering doing additional workouts that might help things along.

    I think what gets me is all they “assymetical exertion”, if that makes sense. The twisting, torquing, punishing my body in three dimensions, etc.

    I really don’t want to quit. What I’m considering is taking a couple months off, get my weight down, and workout (I have a home gym) in a safe, controlled way that’ll let me get stronger and more resilient, then go back to BJJ




    I would NOT quit.  BJJ is a hella workout

    1) Listen to your body.  Go train, then give yourself enough days to recover.  I would train twice a week only, until you fee like your body can easily handle it, then switch to 3x and see how that goes.

    2) DIET.  If you are over weight *while* doing BJJ, you are either over eating, eating like shit, or both.  Cut all refined carbs out of your diet. Thats rule #1. Moderate protein and more fat, way less carbs = general approach.

    3) Be sure you dont have any other hidden medical issues.  Have you had your thyroid checked, etc?

    4) What supplements are you one? Glucosamine/Fish oil for joints? etc





    Yeah, I’m not planning on quitting.  I just wonder if a step back to get myself squared away is a good idea.



    How many times a week are you training?





    I shoot for three days a week, but that rarely plays out.   It’s not just that I’m sore — I’m no stranger to exercise-induced pain — it’s that I almost constantly feel on the edge of a serious injury.  For example, my back injury from yesterday will probably keep me out until Thursday at the earliest.  I spent most of yesterday and this morning just laying perfectly still on my back.  Frustrated.




    Being a spazzy white belt in your 50’s is tough.  Its the natural spazziness that causes the injuries.

    If you were already a technical purple+ belt, you would hardly ever get injured.

    You will need to focus extra EXTRA hard, on NOT going 100% on everything.

    A black belt can completely destroy you without a break a sweat, so you KNOW its possible to win without straining and STRAINING on every fricken little movement you make, like all new white belts.

    Explosive power moves = injuries.  Unfortunately, thats all a white belt knows to do.  This is going to be a mental battle for you. Accept losing more, and try hard not to be so competitive.  Focus on surviving while minimizing energy.  Move slower and controlled.   You need to learn to relax faster to reduce injuries. Easier said than done. Its insanely hard to learn to relax and not fight so hard, but you need to focus on that a lot right now.




    Good advice, thanks.



    Jacks got some great advice. As another old dude (just made 50) I can relate and will just add one thing: I don’t hesitate at all to adjust my training on the fly to protect myself. Some of the warms (single leg shots the length of the gym, duck walks, a ton of push ups etc.) will break me down so I do what I can but I don’t push it. I’m easy on the take down drills and don’t do too much in the way of judo throws. When it comes to free rolling, I usually try and get in 1 maybe 2 good competitive rolls with a purple or blue belt and then get 1 or 2 lighter rolls to finish the night. If I train like this I can easily go 3+ nights a week. If I try to keep up with the young bucks I’d need 5 days to recuperate.



    Taping 2 and 2 fingers together with ~1 cm wide sports tape has helped reducing my finger aches/injuries.

    You identify your problem as “assymetical exertion”. Coming early to training and doing body stretching “asymetrically” could help by loosening up and eventually make your body more flexible and less prone to injury.



    Recreational BB in my fifties here.  My advice to older folks is SLOW DOWN.  I roll at like 50% all the time (with my professor and a few other trusted high belts I ramp to probably 70% but NEVER 100%).  Sometimes that means a low belt catches me, that is OK it is practice not life and death!   I also immediately tap if there is any chance they will injure me.  Armbars especially I KNOW when they have it and will tap before they even try to finish.  Now that does not mean I do not play defense and use good escapes, I do and if the person is not 100% there I will usually escape.

    If you go to hard you will constantly be fighting injury and having to take time off.

    Finally DO listen to your body (take rest days when you need to) and do not do warmups that will wreck you.  I agree with JTomas on that – if they are doing duck walk I might do some squats on the side of the mat or something.    Moderation is the key to longevity…in fact it is the key to most everything in my experience.

    For diet – moderation is good too.  Just eat good real food.  If it came in a box and is full of processed ingredients skip it. For me I eat a ton of organic veggies, meats and keep my carbs relatively low (I do eat some rice and some potatoes).  I still could lose a few Kgs but overall I am quite healthy.

    Best of luck and DO NOT QUIT.











    Im 48, in the beginning I got hurt a lot like your talking about. I just had to take 8 months off because of work, they sent me out of state for training. I am back and ready to get into it, my plan is to go in very slowly….ive gained back about 20lbs and have been eating like crap and drinking at bars nightly because I stayed in hotels (and was depressed about no bjj). I seriously did not even exercise at all the past 8 months other than an occasional walk at night. Id love to jump back into the 4 days a week I was doing before I left. My mind thinks I can, but I KNOW my body will die if I try. Plan is two days a week with a day or two of lifting weights and cardio in between to start.  I know those first few weeks or months back will be tough, main thing is to take it slowly. I went for about 2 years straight about 4 times a week before I stopped…I learned I got hurt way less towards the end then in the beginning. It wasn’t anything anyone else was doing different, it was all me. Its a combination of you getting in better shape and you learning how to roll using less muscle and more technique. And your breathing will get way better. So ill try to take my own advice next week when I start up again…im going to take it real slow and try my hardest to breathe…and not spaz out.



    All i can add to this is to just take it easy and work at YOUR pace. Do what you can and you will see that in time you will progess and other things will come easier. Dont spazz and just try to focus on say half guard or side control that way you dont put to much strain on your body trying all kinds of crazy moves. Great advice already mentioned here. Do not quit. I have few injuries and constantly get tricep cramps like no other.

    Just my take on it. Thats what i do.

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