Throughout my journey in Jiu-Jitsu I got acquainted with pain often... I can see how many people don't last in Jiu-Jitsu... Injuries can definately be an obstacle and a turn off. How do you explain to your boss, I'm out for a while with a torn MCL on my knee due to Jiu-Jitsu training? fact is - you don't. When I had to get surgery on my knee, I lied to my boss, my family and sad to say my fiance. I had to? I had no choice just to keep Jiu-Jitsu out of the line of attack from my family and my job.
When you get in your 50's, it's tough to keep up with the injuries and explanations everytime you come home limping or with bruises on your face and body. It's a tough journey but here are some tips that have gotten me by even through all of the injuries, staph infections, broken bones, etc.
1. You can't stay home and not train when you are injured. From white belt to higher levels, you have to keep training unless you are recovering from surgery and even then taking notes is a sure way of "showing up." Drills, Drills and more Drills... Believe, me, someone will help you train and drill with you. If you feel that the training partner is getting carried away, it's ok to say slow down, i'm injured, I just want to drill. Even drilling on your own, will keep you in Jiu-Jitsu shape... Don't let injuries dictate your progress.
2. They used to call my training bag the portable pharmacy... In my training bag, I carried - disposable ice packs, an empty ice bag, neosporin (for infections), tinactin, listerine, aleve, coldspray for injuries, Flex-Power for muscle stiffness and injuries, alcohol wipes, Visine medical eye drops, bandages, elbow brace, wrist brace, knee brace, ankle brace, change of shirt and a "Will" - ha...
3. On training days, I soak in epsom salt for 10 - 15 minutes mostly in the morning. During the time I am soaking in the tub, i stretch. The hot water makes your muscles limber and you can really get a good stretch. This is very effective in the winter because we tend to tense up due to the cold weather. I soak as well in the summer weather but I keep it down to 10 minutes. And Ice Baths every other week works well in the summer too.
On non-training days, I only soak in the winter but I do not use epsom salt, unless I am nursing an injury. Don't soak too many days in a row in epsom salt as it is not healthy. If I am dealing with stiffness, I use a sports cream named Flex-Power (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/p/flexpower-flex-power-joint-muscle-4oz-4-oz-cream/f5-1004) to loosen up that area. Usually the lower back or hips is where I use it most.
4. On off days I make use of resistance bands, three pairs of kettle bells (20lb, 25lb, 35lb), TRX cables and a medicine ball. My workout consists of 15 minutes non-stop cycle and 20 minutes core training. Anymore than that and I believe, you are stressing your body. In BJJ, rolling and drilling time is more beneficial. For me it is more of a physical therapy workout than anything else. And in the end stretching. I don't take supplements like Creatine, Protien Powder etc., these things become a dependency. Just stick to a good diet (lots of vegetables and greens), sweet potato, yams, chicken and turkey. If you can eat Fish, go for it. I take one tablespoon of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in a cup of tea daily, Vitamin D (because when you live in NY, you are deprived of Sun), Vitamin B6, B12, C and Potassium. You can get potassium from Bananas but I have an Allergy to them so I just take the vitamins. Potassium is good for the heart, which you need very much in your 50's.
5. Train your brain... When you are injured, it's a good time to train your brain. This does not mean look at Youtube Videos. This means, look at your training notes and start thinking about areas where you are still weak. Start thinking about positions where you feel you cannot move or have been compromised in. Youtube videos are good to see what types of things are going on out there, but it is not a good idea to apply a technique from a youtube video without reviewing it with your coach or a group of high level practitioners. My first Coach Carmine used to say, Jiu Jitsu is like a language, first you learn words and then you put those words together to communicate. After years of training, you become fluid in the language of Jiu-Jitsu. My other Coach Jose Luis used to say, Jiu-Jitsu is like a puzzle of thousands of pieces... if you throw it together in a rush, it will look like a mess - you need to think, take your time and put the pieces together - just like positions and submissions in Jiu-Jitsu. Coach Howard tells me even the highest level practitioners have one real good game but you never stop sharpening up that game... if you start trying to adapt many different games, you spread yourself thin... you become a "jack of all trades, master at none". Each coach I've had, has implanted a seed in my brain sort of speak. A way of thinking that has helped me progress from the time i have started to now. And yet, I am still training my brain as if I just started Jiu-Jitsu.
6. Days where you feel like nothing is working.... These will be more than usual if you train consistently. We hit a wall in everything we do, but we get right back up to the challenge. People become discouraged when pride starts kicking them in the head, or when their mat reputation is at risk - yet this does not help you become a better practitioner. When I feel like nothing is working for me, I go back to the basics. Back to the very foundation that I was taught. 99% of the time, it works.
7. When I'm Injured - I can't really take days off because I teach. However, when I wasn't teaching, I still showed up to the mat when injured. I've already mentioned the Epsom Salt baths, (Ice Baths in the summer), If you are having a NY winter like we are having then after you take a hot Epsom Salt bath, Ice the areas that are injured for 10 - 15 minutes. The Flex-Power sports cream is like Tiger Balm on Steroids - it works well. Anti-Inflamatory pills. I take Aleve Night Time every other day and in between I take Advil or Tylenol. Do your own physical therapy with resistance bands. Buy a roll of KT Tape and watch some youtube videos on how to apply them. KT Tape is only good for when you are sitting around watching TV. You cannot train with it on or sleep during the night as it comes off easily. However, it's good for muscle therapy. If your injury is back related, then if you can afford it or have insurance find a good massage therapy place. In NY my favorite is MaxWell Medical. The chiropractic care and massage therapy works wonders. There is also Dr. Silk's office, although he is no longer there, his practice is still active. Invest in a foam roller for your back and a rubber ball for the knots on your back. Last is an ultrasound machine I use for Joint Therapy ONLY. You can purchase one for $99 at mendmeshop.com. They have doctors on staff and you can ask all the questions you want regarding the use of the machine and the therapy. I can safely say that I have recovered from some serious joint injuries in less than a week with this machine. I just purchased my third one.
Disclaimer: use the Ultrasound Machine at your own risk.
I still train with a dislocated shoulder, fractured finger, recovering ribs from a fracture, and all other pains you can think of; these tips have helped me continue to train Jiu-Jitsu and yes - I wrap bubble wrap around my ribs so I can roll...
Hope this helps anyone out there battling injuries and age while doing this thing we love... Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!