The simple law of averages tell us that if you spend any signifigant time on the mats and you will suffer an injury. Injuries suck. First and foremost they are painful. Second they can take a long time to heal. Last but not least they prevent you from training! Or do they?
Whether it is ping pong, football, or grappling knowing how to train around injuries is an essential facet of any sport. The first line of defense is train smart! Train with instructors that know what they are doing and know how to keep you safe! Next, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Use tape, braces, pads, and other gear to prevent and protect against minor injuries or to stop minor injuries from becoming major ones. Major injuries are more tricky; your number one priority is to ensure that the injury does not get worse! Listen to your body – if rest is needed then certainly rest! However, often times there is still training you can do despite the injury.
Case #1: Hand, Arm and Shoulder Injuries. You can still train! Tuck that arm into your belt (or grab your waistband) and work your open guard using just your legs and one arm. If your partner passes your guard STOP immediately. Let your partner go back into your guard and start again. You will find that by the time the injury is healed you have really improved your open guard game. Also, work your foot sweeps. Use your good appendage to grip your partner and guide his movements then execute the foot sweep. You will find that by the time the injury is healed you have improved the timing and recognition of your foot sweeps!
Case #2: Foot, Leg, Knee Injuries. You can still train! First and foremost avoid positions that put strain on the injury – most especially guard! During this type of injury you can work on your top game. Specifically your crossbody and north south pins. Have your partner work his escapes while you attempt to keep your pin and work your submissions. If he achieves guard or stands up just reset the position. Takedowns are tricky when you have an injury like this; it is best to avoid them while healing.
Case #3: Neck, Back, Hip Injuries. These are the most difficult injuries to contend with as a grappler! You can continue grappling while such an injury heals but with several important caveats: only train with experienced partners that you can trust, only do light training of any technique, and avoid any and all positions or techniques that put strain on the injury! Take this time to do a lot of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning; jogging, biking, swimming, anything that doesn’t irritate the injury at this point. Working with light weights to maintain some muscle tone in my upper body is okay but definitely nothing heavy or extreme!
Finally any injury is an excuse to buy a couple of books and DVDs! You can still remain in the grappling mindset this way while you heal!