Anyone who trains seriously knows that the more you train, the more likely you are to be forced to train while injured. These injuries can range from a pulled muscle or a tweaked neck to major knee and shoulder injures. The truth is that you can train while you’re injured, but it requires discipline and humility.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when training while injured is that tapping is crucial and more people will be able to tap you. If, for example, you have a knee injury, you should tap early to leg locks. This means you may wind up tapping to the threat of a submission, rather than the submission itself.
Another key to continue training while healing from an injury is focused training. I watched a video by Stephan Kesting in which he talks about training with an injured neck. One point he makes is that when your neck is injured, you should focus on standing passes. This sort of thinking applies to any injury; if your knee or shoulder is injured, focus on areas that don’t put pressure on that knee or that shoulder.
Choose your training partners carefully when injured. I’d venture to say that someone prepping for an upcoming competition is a recipe for disaster because that person is sharpening their killer instinct. Also, particularly inexperienced or larger and stronger training partners can be risky. Stick to training partners around your size who have enough experience to work with you.
One thing I always encounter is people offering to tap early if I catch their injured limb. I think that this mindset, while honorable, is potentially hazardous because you’re better off avoiding irritating that injury for now and practicing dealing with that submission later.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game and they are largely unavoidable. You can do things to reduce the likelihood of injury, but the only way to prevent injury is to quit jiu-jitsu, and that’s probably not an option for anyone reading this. Instead, learn to train intelligently and protect areas that are injured so that they can heal. If an injury is bad enough that you have to take time off the mat, consider light, controlled drilling instead. There is always something you can do to keep yourself active.
For anyone out there who has dealt with injures, what did you do to stay on the mat? Or did you have to succumb and take time off?