Monday, October 21, 2019

Injury Prevention in Grappling Sports - Part VC

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at knee and hip injuries that happen in grappling sports.  Last week, we discussed some specific stretches that you can do to help prevent these injuries.  This week, we are going to be looking at specific exercises to strengthen these areas and help prevent these injuries.

One of the injuries we discussed was an adductor strain.  This is very common among white belts and blue belts and is the result of holding guard.  Typically holding this position for prolonged periods of time and against resistance is not something we are typically do in our daily activity and as such, makes this muscle group susceptible to injury.  

Seated Adductor - this is a piece of equipment located in most gyms today.  There are typically three versions of this, standing, seated with legs straight and seated with knees bent.  If I have a choice, I prefer the seated with knees bent.   This particular machine places this hips at 90 degrees flexion and the knees at 90 degrees.  If you were laying on your back this would be mimic the position you are in when you close guard.  With the position of the hips and the knee, this will strengthen the muscles in a fashion that is very similar to guard.  

When doing this exercise, it should be done with high repetitions, 15-30 reps and lower weight.  Make sure to focus on the eccentric portion of the exercise.  In other words, once you pinch your legs together, slowly return to the starting position.  This will not only help you resist someone breaking your guard but will also aid in preventing injury.  

Another common injury is hamstring strains.  There are a lot of ways this can happen in the sport but a lot of times this will happen from an eccentric strain.  What that simply means is that you are resisting someone trying to pull your heal to your butt while someone is overpowering it and slowly pulling it the opposite direction.  This is a huge stress to the hamstrings and there are exercises we can do to help prevent.

Nordic Hamstring Curl - this is a great exercise for eccentric training of the hamstrings.    As pictured here, you secure your feet in a stable "unmovable" base.  With pads under your knees, you slowly lower yourself to the floor.  I will typically start folks with a small physio ball in front of them for safety.  What will happen as you lower yourself, there will be a point at which your hamstrings give out and you go crashing to the ground.  By using a ball (or hands in front of your face), you prevent from smacking your face into the ground.  Push yourself back up to the starting position and start over again.

This is a very aggressive form of hamstring strengthening and as such, realize you will get a fairly significant amount of muscle soreness with.  Start with a lower number of reps and sets (2 sets of 6) and progress yourself over an extended period of time to 3 sets of 15 reps.

Studies have shown that core strengthening is a critical part of preventing of both lower limb injuries as well as upper limb.  For grapplers, this is a key component to a successful game.  With an increase in core strength, your sweeps from guard not only become more powerful but also much quicker.  In addition, take downs that involve hip tosses or throws become much more effective and stronger with a strong core.  Traditionally, when we think of the core we think of 6 pack abs.  However, the core is a three dimensional structure.  There are the abdominals, internal/external obliques and erector spinae.  To train them effectively, we need to add some core training.

Planks: The plank is a great exercise for the abdominals (rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus) and the spinal extensors (erector spinae, multifidus and quadratus lumborum).  These are key for posturing up in someone's guard as well as a lot of the bent over attack positions we get into.

A plank is one of the most common exercises we see people do for core but it is also one of the exercises we see done incorrectly most of the time.  As depicted in this picture, the feet should be positioned all the way together, the knees are straight (not bent) hips are in a neutral hip position (not flexed or extended), spine in a neutral position, shoulder and elbows at 90 degrees and maintain a downward gaze with a neutral cervical spinal position.  Most people who do this exercise (80%+) do not maintain this position.  Most will position their hips in the air or allow one hip to drop down.  This position should be maintained for minimum of 1 minute in duration.

Side Plank:  The side planks are a great exercise for the gluteus medius as well as the core stabilizers (internal/external obliques, quadratus lumborum, and tranverse abdominus) as well as the shoulder girdle.  However, this is also one of the exercises we see done incorrectly a majority of the time.  

As depicted here, the feet should be positioned on top of one another, feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all in alignment.  Hips and back should be in a neutral position and the hand should be held up on the hip.  This position should be held for a minimum of one minute.  In this exercise you need to make sure you do not allow your:

  • Hips to drop down or move up
  • Ankle stays in neutral position and you keep your shin off the ground
  • Your hips and/or shoulders do not roll forward or backwards
  • Head remains in neutral position
These are just some of the exercises.  Next week, we will continue this discussion to talk about some more exercises you can do to prevent these injuries.  We hope you found this information valuable.   If you did enjoy, please share with your colleagues, training partners and BJJ enthusiast and please be sure to follow us on instagrm @ bjjpt_acl_guy and twitter @acl_prevention.  Train hard and stay well.  #ViPerformAMI #ACLPlayItSafe

Dr. Nessler is a practicing physical therapist with over 20 years sports medicine clinical experience and a nationally recognized expert in the area of athletic movement assessment and ACL injury prevention.  He is the founder | developer of the ViPerform AMI,  ViPerform AMI RTPlay, the ACL Play It Safe Program, Run Safe Program and author of a college textbook on this subject.  Trent has performed >5000 athletic movement assessments in the US and abroad.  He serves as the National Director of Sports Medicine Innovation for Select Medical, is Vice Chairman of Medical Services for USA Obstacle Racing and movement consultant for numerous colleges and professional teams.  Trent has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 5 years and complete BJJ junkie. 

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