The one spot on our bodies that grappling really affects in a negative way are joints. Whether it is our knee joints, finger joints, elbow joint or some other, BJJ is sure to take its toll. For some, the pain comes immediately in the form of injuries. That’s not what we’re going to focus on today. The subject of this article is much sneakier and more difficult to recover from the consequence of the grappling lifestyle. Today, we tackle the problem of BJJ arthritis.
There’s a saying out there that goes something like this: “If you’ve been training BJJ for longer than a year, and you wake up pain-free, it means that you’ve died”. For all intensive purposes, this is a fact of grappling life. All those nagging little aches and pains we have one thing in common. They’re going to be even more nagging and painful in the future when they reach the level of full-blown BJJ arthritis.
So, how do you approach this worrying issue? First, you need to be aware that it’ll hunt you for sure if you reaming in BJJ for more than a decade. There’s also a genetic and individual competent to it, so not all grapplers will experience arthritis the same. Secondly, you need to understand arthritis so that you know the warning signs. And finally you need to accept the fact that it’ll inevitably come and you need to prepare accordingly.
If you’re looking to stay healthy and pain-free, make sure you give your body every chance to fight off diseases! Use a smart nutrition plan, tailored to suit your very own needs. The leading expert on combat sports nutrition, George Lockhart is the man to turn to. Over 4 DVDs and an E-book he’s going to teach you everything you need to know in his “Nutrition And Weight Management System”.
Arthritis As A Disease
So, how do we explain BJJ arthritis without turning this article into a medical piece? Let’s take it step by step and avoid all the medical nomenclature to begin with. First and foremost arthritis as a word means inflammation of the joints. It may refer to a specific joint in the body or a multitude of them. In some cases, it may even engulf all of the joints in the body, but these conditions are predetermined. That said, the inflammation might be momentary, meaning you get it due to trauma or overuse and it dies down after a while with the right therapy. The more worrying one is chronic arthritis which never really dies down and flares up regularly. Unfortunately, this is the type of arthritis commonly associated with Jiu-Jitsu.
Basically a joint is the connection of two bones in our bodies. Since bone-on bone connections are painful, our joints use cartilage to cushion the interaction. Cartilage both connects and protects the bone ends within the bound s of a joint. Cartilage is expendable, though, and slowly degrades with everyday use. Now add to that the stress of grappling and you’ve got a major factor influencing cartilage health.
As the cartilage in the joints gets smaller and weaker, the more bone-on-bone contact there is. This, as we already concluded, is extremely painful and lead to further inflammation. Constant and repetitive stress leads to the worsening of the condition.
Now, genetic and autoimmune predispositions aside, BJJ arthritis is a chronic form of the ailment that can hit any joint in the body. For example, one body part that’s all but certain to develop arthritis are the joints of the fingers.
Dealing With BJJ Arthritis
So, now that we understand arthritis and we’re aware that there’s no getting away from it, what do we do? After all giving up BJJ is not really an option, otherwise, that would’ve prevented arthritis from even showing up.
In terms of practical solutions that are available to grapplers, there are a few that actually work. Do not expect to cure arthritis altogether. That said, there are ways you can reduce the effects and train as pain-free as possible. These solutions include a few changes to the way you approach training and, more importantly, recovering from it.
One very important way of dealing with arthritis of the fingers, in particular, is adopting a No-Gi game. This doesn’t necessarily mean dropping the Gi altogether. It means staying away from spider guard and employing more No-Gi grips even when you’re rolling with the Gi. It is going to give your knuckles some much-needed rest.
As far as anatomical strengths go, joints work closely with specific surrounding muscles. This translates to increased joint stability when associated muscles are stronger. IN terms of this, make sure you include some form of strength training outside of the gym, especially with affected joints. Also, make isometric exercise a part of your routine as they help muscles work on stabilization more which gives joint a rest.
In recovery terms, focus on adding flexibility and mobility work to your daily routine. Even if you’re not training, you need to go for mobility work daily. On days when you train, mobility is absolutely mandatory.
Finally, a huge one is warming up. If you have a specific joint affected by arthritis, make sure you give it proper attention during warm-ups. If you have more than one joint, be ready to warm up significantly longer.
The Nutritional Side Of Resolving Arthritis
There’s one aspect of dealing with BJJ arthritis many people do not really comprehend is the nutritional one. As with many other chronic conditions, nutrition plays a huge part of prevention and control. In terms of arthritis, there are a few strategies and some supplements that you should consider looking into. And remember that as important as what to use is, what to avoid is equally as crucial.
Right from the start, do not expect miracles from anything we mention. That said, some of these stuff has been proven to help so it’s worth giving it a try. Omega 3 fatty acids rank really high on the list of stuff that works. In other words, get your fish oil in and you’ll score one over arthritis. fish oils Now, the best way to get Omega 3 acids is directly from fish. However, it is doubtful that you can get the required amount from food only, so supplements might be a better choice. Krill oil supplements or Omega 3 fatty acids in any form should be sufficient.
Another very underrated product is Curcumin. While many people think that this is based in mumbo –jumbo, there are actually studies out there that support curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties. Once again, go for a curcumin-rich supplement, as all the powdered curcumin spice in the world won’t really help you deal with arthritis.
On a finishing note, let’s glance over one supplement that doesn’t really do anything. It is down to shrewd marketing that grapplers with arthritis turn to glucosamine and/or chondroitin products for help. These compounds have no effect on joint pain or slowing down arthritis whatsoever. And remember, arthritis is just another opponent that you need to beat. So fight smart!