Common Injuries in Jiu Jitsu | Neck
It can go without saying that injuries in jiu jitsu is not so much a question of how it will happen to you, but when. After getting back to the mat post-honeymoon last Saturday night, I could sense that the coming Sunday was going to be sore one. After waking up (moving quite like Batman), I felt compelled to write.
INJURY NO. 1 : NECK
[Commonly encountered from neck cranks, guillotine chokes & hard falls]
Muscles Affected*: [Upper/Mid-back] Semi-spinalis, Longissimus dorsi, Iliocostalis dorsi, Trapezius [Neck] Semispinalis capitus, Levator scapulae, Longus capitus, Longus colii, Scalenes, Splenius cervicis
STEP ONE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR PAIN & BEING PROACTIVE
The first thing to understand (and sometimes a difficult thing amongst men) is “Don’t be a hero.” Before more damage is done, Tap out! It also helps to communicate beforehand with your training partner, especially if they are strong to begin with. If something feels injured, it probably is (proceed to step 2). The quicker you start the healing process (which first is the sometimes difficult task of stopping your training – at the very least for the time being).
Listen to your body. Don’t be a hero. What you do from the time injury occurs and for the proceeding 24-72 hours, is of monumental importance. Stretching beforehand is crucial before any activity and will help stave off the soreness and lessen the possibility for injury.
STEP TWO: R.I.C.E., RECOVERY & NUTRITION
Most of us have heard the acronym “R.I.C.E.” It stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Stay away from heat (it’ll increase the inflammatory response). I learned in massage school the tremendous benefits of ice therapy and highly encourage everyone to apply it, constantly. Studies have show that heat (although it may feel nice) acts superficially and doesn’t get quite the rush of blood and nutrients that cold produces. Aspirin or Alleve is a good pain reliever but Arnica is a great natural, topical treatment (applied only to injured, unbroken skin) [Weil, 2006]. Three key nutritional needs for muscle recovery/growth are vitamin C (chief component of connective tissue healing) and protein (essential for muscle growth/regrowth) and hydration. Speaking from personal experience, even with the use of multiple, daily applications of ice, and plenty of good rest and nutrition, pain (although in a diminishing amount) is present anywhere from 3 to 14 days.
STEP THREE: REHABILITATION / PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE
It is always advisable to see a physician regarding any injury, however many injuries we sustain in the martial arts and through training are (fairly) minor and can be dealt with through the application of good sense and information (from expert sources**). Acupuncture, massage therapy and (especially) chiropractic treatments are avenues highly worth exploring and will help keep your body working in top order. And while recovery is best done with rest, it is not to say that some motion is bad. The body craves motion (but know your limits/boundaries)! Light stretching, slow movement and (pain-free) rotations of the joints can be highly beneficial in boosting circulation, improving muscle tone and lubricating the joints. A great resource for anyone is Dick Hartzell (inventor of the Flex band). Here is one of my favorite videos of his for shoulders [Click Here].
You’re body is yours and yours alone, and it goes without saying that we should do our utmost to keep it healthy. When, how soon and how hard you continue your training is ultimately in your hands and should be a safe call. Be patient and make sure your ready. If you’ve consulted your physician or chiropractor, ask him or her if and/or when you’ll be ready to continue training. Good luck everyone.
We at The Combative Corner wish you all the best and – no injuries! Cheers.
Please offer your advice if you feel we missed/left out anything
RELATED ARTICLES: KEITH OWEN: DOES YOUR BACK OR NECK HURT?
*Obviously injuries vary and therefore different muscles can be damaged/injured to a greater extent. This is not a complete list, as other muscles maybe affected as well. It is, however, of benefit to become aware of these muscles.
**Author Michael Joyce is a professional martial artist, licensed massage therapist (#6096) and has his degree in the Exercise & Sport Sciences. Additional Resources: Andrew Weil M.D., The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2004, Volume 32, Dr. Tom Deters, Ashok V Gokhale, MD, PhD, eMedicineHealth.
-Photos of Muscles Courtesy of: Greys Anatomy