How to Train BJJ with a Thumb Injury & What Else You Can Do When You Can’t Roll

Those who read this blog on the regular (and I imagine there are thousands of you waiting for this entry to be released), will remember that last Wednesday I’ve dislocated my thumb while sparring. While the swelling has largely subsided, the pain remains and achieving any grips borders on impossible. It means I haven’t fought legends, conquered mountains or been an all-around world beater this week. Therefore, I will talk about more down to earth issues.

Injuries are a part of any sport and especially combat sports. The nature of combat brings so much unpredictability that getting hurt is inevitable. If you have been training for a while and haven’t injured yourself to the point where your non-training friends question your sanity, you’re one of three things:
1) lucky as hell
2) not training hard enough (please stop reading this blog now if this applies) or
3) you have a secret warm-up routine that involves “running up hills and stretching” while not even breaking a sweat.

Now that we’re only left with the cripples reading this, I can continue knowing my advice/introspection won’t fall on deaf ears.

BJJ injury

A giant thumb, a hazard of training BJJ in Rio

Getting injured sucks. No two ways about it. Not only do you have to deal with the reduced mobility and pain but you also can’t really train. For some of us training provides that safe heaven in the chaos of the modern world. Whatever is happening in my life, I know that I can step onto the mat and for 2 hours the problem doesn’t exist. I get to live in the moment and not have to worry about some obligation or what the future might bring. However big the issue might have been, it seems trivial after training. Injuries take all of that away. You suddenly find yourself restlessly pacing the house trying to channel your energy into other task. Fighting has been such a big part of my life that without it I am not myself. Those who know me well, will very much attest to that.

So what is one to do? Despair? Get depressed? Hell no.

However big an injury, there’s always a way around it. “Losing” a thumb doesn’t take away from your ability to sprint up Pedra de Gavea. It doesn’t stop you from improving your endurance. It doesn’t limit your ability to work out the finer kinks of positions.

Even though you might not be able to spar, you can always just grab one (or a few) of your Connection Rio buddies and drill techniques in the garden. Being injured provides a break from the intense training, lets you heal up all the other knocks and allows you to come back hungry.

Embrace the injuries. They’re not the end of the world.

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