The life of a grappler is a life in pain. Joints ache, there are weird muscle spasms, knees lock up, ears are all twisted and there’s at least one bruise per week somewhere on the face (not to mention the rest of the body). But life doesn’t have to be that way. BJJ pain is something that can be managed, as long as you understand how inflammation, especially of the chronic variety, works. Grapplers don’t have to live in pain, even if they train hard, nor does performance have to suffer on the account of inflammation.
Choric inflammation is a much more serious thing than just the occasional BJJ pain we’re all used to coping with. Sometimes inflammation can even be hard to detect, which does not mean it is not present or influencing performance and everyday life. Grapples usually suffer from inflammation, chronic or otherwise, in different parts of their bodies. The effects, though, are not felt instantly, making inflammation a silent but major factor in the decline of performance, and even perhaps health.
What Is The Deal With Inflammation And Grapplers?
Why are grapplers so prone to inflammation? After all, there are plenty of other sports out there, and in some of them, people train a lot harder than we do in BJJ. What makes grappling so “open” and prone to inflammation is h type of training we do. During BJJ training sessions, and especially rolls, we move and use our bodies in ways that are completely unpredictable and impossible to completely prepare for. While our bodies abide at the time, they do have a price to pay afterward, in the form of local (or even general) inflammation.
But it is not just the training. Let’s face it unless you’re a professional athlete of the highest caliber, (and even then) you’re probably not really paying close attention to your nutrition, recovery training, and/or sleep quality. On top of everything, despite being the main culprit behind BJJ pain, physical training is not the only cause of inflammation. Lots of stress, trauma, and going into burnout (physical and mental) all have their contribution to chronic inflammation in grapplers.
Inflammation is not all bad though. It serves a very important purpose in our organisms – helps heal injured tissues. Inflammation is a natural response of our body, enabling blood to arrive at the site of an injury and help with healing. It also has a bad side to it, especially in cases of chronic inflammation caused by repetitive stress. A decline in performance usually accompanies it, along with various amounts of BJJ pain in the case of grapplers. If left unchecked it can lead to health issues like metabolic syndrome or cause other types of disturbances.
Managing BJJ Pain From Chronic Inflammation
How do you manage BJJ pain and deal with chronic inflammation? Believe it or not, it just takes a bit of dedication, some planning, and lots of common sense. Inflammation is not rocket science – all grapplers have it. Allowing it to turn into a chronic thing is what most people get wrong. If you establish a routine based on proper sleep, a few tweaks of your nutrition, a simple recovery protocol, and perhaps, a different approach to training or just rolling, you’ll be well on your way to lead a life free of BJJ pain and the drawbacks of constant inflammation.
For grapplers, R&R means Rest and Recovery, rather than Rest and Recreation. The idea for recreation of most grapples is either doing more BJJ, or doing some other physical activity that doesn’t really help with inflammation. In that sense, rest is key, way more than doing recovery sessions of any variety. Our bodies will take care of anything going haywire, but we need to let them do their thin. How? Easy. Get enough sleep, aiming for at least 6 and preferably 8 hours. Do so in a quiet place, with no electronics, and minimal sounds. Moreover, do try and do a form of restricted eating, not eating anything 5-6 house before you go to bed so that your body can actually focus on repairing stuff, rather than digesting a burger and fries throughout the night.
When BJJ pain is more prominent, you can turn towards recovery to aid your rest. Her you can use some of the basic stuff, like doing Yoga, or even exploring Yoga Nidra. Other options at your disposal are SMR release or foam rolling as you may know it. Stretching also helps, but only when done correctly and with the intention of releasing tightness, so that pains subside and your body can then take care of the inflammation.
Oh, and do take at least two days off training during the week. Non-negotiable!
Food And Supplements
Nutrition is key for grapplers, especially those training hard and/or competing. However, it is hard to dial it in, especially with younger people that like to socialize and go out. The good news is, you won’t need to do some crazy diet in order to maximize how your body deals with inflammation and minimize BJJ pain. All you need is including some foods that lower inflammation and stacking up on a supplement or two.
Food-wise, lower processed carb intake, red meat, bad fats, and the likes. But you already knew that. Also, try to eat more tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish, and berries. On the supplements front, all you need is some good quality vitamins and a solid fish oil supplement. Stuff like curcumin can also be helpful but there’s still more research into it that needs to be done.
Changing Your Approach
Finally, consider the way you train as well. Three’s no point in doing any of the above if you’re just going to run your body into the ground every time you’re on the mats. Chose a grappling style that will fit your age, goals, injuries, and lifestyle, so that you can be sure inflammation does not affect your performance. Otherwise, life with BJJ pain that gets progressively worse is what is in store for you.
BJJ pain from injuries and fatigue is always going to be part of grappling. However, enduring those deep pains that are a result of overuse and chronic inflammation is not just needless, but counterproductive to performance as well. The solutions are easy, and I tried to make them even easier and simpler, given that grapples tend to be a stubborn bunch of folks. Let’s see if it works.