One of the challenges of training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, or any physical activity (skiing, rock climbing, soccer, etc.) for that matter, is avoiding injury. While it’s impossible to completely prevent injury, there are some things you can do that will no doubt reduce the risk. Here are four:
1. Warming Up. A proper warm-up will prepare the body for hard training, and thus lower the chances of injuries such as pulling a muscle. A good warm-up will include movements similar or identical to those which you’ll do during training, and will gradually increase in intensity until you’ve broken a sweat and are breathing heavily. Stretching is best done after training, when the muscles are warm and pliable.
2. Strength Training. This could be done through lifting weights, using machines, or simply doing body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. Building strength doesn’t necessarily mean big muscles. It means ensuring that your muscles can assist the joints and connective tissue to withstand the stress put on your body when you train. Strength training 2 times a week is sufficient, you don’t want to overdo it and weaken the muscles before a tough session on the mats.
3. Listening to Your Body. When you’re a little sore or beat up, you may find that after a solid warm-up you feel fine and are ready to go. But if you’re injured or sick, it’s best to take some time to recover. Ignoring those signs that you should take a break can often lead to sloppy training, which can end with an injury. As one black belt world champion said, “Rest is part of your training.”
4. Choosing Training Partners. This is a tricky one, as many students feel obligated to train with anyone who asks, and newer students don’t want to cause any awkwardness. But there are diplomatic ways of doing it. First, you can be proactive and choose your training partners before anyone singles you out. Or you can speak with your instructor in private about who you’re uncomfortable training with, and he/she can pair or switch people up when necessary.
For women it is especially important to avoid training with men who are, a.) much larger, and b.) brand new to BJJ. There are exceptions to every rule, but typically bigger people aren’t always able to prevent their size from being a factor, and newer male students have not yet shed the ego that will prevent them from accepting the difficulty or defeat when rolling with an experienced female practitioner. Not to mention the fact that new students move in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways.
Ultimately, if you participate in any physical activity for a number of years you will face injury at some point. While the above suggestions will not guarantee 100% health throughout your time training, they will help. On top of that, there’s no real draw-back to them when done correctly.