Starting BJJ with a bad back

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by Belfsst Samurai, May 22, 2013.

  1. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    Hello all

    basically, I wanted to know if there's anyone out there who has had a slipped disc in their lumbar region and if it has been ok to train in BJJ? Mine happened a few years back doing MA and as a result I had to knock it on the head. It has recurred only once since then and that was from bending over to pick something up.
    If I look after my back it seems to hold up well and I am pain free. I have tried doing other sports but they're not motivating me at all!

    I long to get back into training but returning to what I did before, which included break falls and throws each class, is not the way forward as the impact wouldn't be good. I've dabbled a bit in BJJ and am thinking of joining a local club. I feel this may be one of the better options as a lot of time is spent on the floor grappling and as a result there won't be as much compression on my back.

    Anyone have any input as to whether this would be ok or if it may flair up my problem?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    My advice would be to consult with your doctor and your instructor before training.
  3. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    what thomas said. consult with your doctor.

    bjj, like judo, is all about technique, not strength. but your core will definitely be tested.
  4. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    My BJJ instructor has two bulging Discs, BJJ helps but he also does a lot of core work and has to train inteligently to avoid further injury.

    See a sports physio for rehab /prehab, once cleared by your GP.
  5. jitz

    jitz New Member

    I suffer from a bad back and I still train but, I think Thomas is correct; seek out a doctor. Regular massage and chiropratic care is a must.
  6. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    Doctor time! I'd also advise you to let your training partners know about your condition - no reason someone should go for a spinal lock on you or something.
  7. m1k3jobs

    m1k3jobs Dudeist Priest

    Pushing 60 and started BJJ again after taking about 18 months off and I really notice a difference. So, this time around is leaving my ego at the door and tapping at the slightest sign of pain. If I'm gassing I'll tap, if there is anything that doesn't feel right I'll tap.

    I'm there to learn BJJ and have fun. Can't train and learn if I'm hurt and and I get hurt easier now as much as I hate to admit it and it takes longer to heal.

    I would also recommend Roy Harris BJJ Over 40. Great advice on how to train and roll for those of us who are not in top form any more.
  8. Saved_in_Blood

    Saved_in_Blood Valued Member

    Just curious man, but do you have and/or use an inversion table? I have several buldging discs, a small crack in my spine and scoliosis and I was in A LOT of pain everyday. I get on the table for maybe 1-2 minutes at a time 2-3 times a day and I feel a lot better. I also take 5 or 6 grams of MSM a day as well.
  9. Saved_in_Blood

    Saved_in_Blood Valued Member

    I have 2 as well... it really is painful.
  10. roblen

    roblen Valued Member


    i slipped a disc 13 years ago (pain the like of which i have never suffered and would never want to again)

    the doctor is the first port of call, once you have the go ahead train the core and you will devise , with your instructor, a game that will avoid compressions.

    for me, when someone stood within my guard-which compresses the spine- i got very good at sweeps and moving to half guard.

    get the medical advice first but always remember you know have this problem for life.

    good luck
  11. righty

    righty Valued Member

    No one can really tell you definitively whether you will have problems or not. Every injury is different, even among slipped discs.

    I would say you can experiment on your own some of the basic movements at home before you try them out in an actual class. These are mostly going to be a lot of bodyweight type exercises. e.g. shrimping, planks, glute raises. You can also start doing basic exercises at home and in the gym to slowly and carefully start seeing what may cause you issues.

    Doctors and physios I would recommend seeing. However keep in mind that a few may warn you against it entirely, because yes you WILL be at a higher risk of injury. Since you have been relatively symptom free for a while you may be OK but ultimately you won't know until you try.

    If you want to give it a go tell EVERYONE that you will be taking it easy for a while especially while sparring. Contact the instructor before trying and inform then straight out what your issues are and again when you turn up. Also tell each and every one of you training partners.

    Good luck.
  12. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    Thanks very much for the replies, much appreciated. Regarding seeing my doctor, I know that they will not be able to advise as they are a GP and always refer you to a specialist. My last physio said I could go back if I want, but with this type of injury it really is 'person' specific. I have been a bit lazy of late with strengthening my core so I'm going to start back to that and maybe do some kettlebell workouts. I have a friend who is a sports physio but who lives in a different country, but I'm going to call him for advice.
    I think I'm going to go for it though and just build up slowly as I can be aa bit competitive.

  13. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    i think it goes without saying, but you need to see a specialist.

    but take it easy. see how your body reacts. build up your core slowly.
  14. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    Well, I went to my 1st class and my back held up ok. Going to go once a week for the 1st month or so and see how I get on. Really enjoyed it so going to take the time to strengthen my core and lower back so I can keep at it.

  15. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    Well, just thought I'd update anyone who is interested or who kindly posted a reply. Been back about 6 weeks with a 2 week break in the middle due to holidaying etc.. and it's going well so far. Have been careful to stretch well and have been doing a lot more core work/stretching/pilates at home to enable me to continue rolling. My back is holding up well with only the odd bit of discomfort, nothing that I haven't had while doing nowt! Only time I actually damaged it was turning up for a class slightly late, not stretching and rolling/sparring the whole class.
    Really glad to be back and already working out how to try and incorporate more classes as I'm making 2 a week, although one is more structured than the other.
    Also got my bran new gi the other day so I can tap out in style!

  16. Late for dinner

    Late for dinner Valued Member

    OP, really glad to hear that you have made it back to training and that things are holding up so far. Just a question or two as I might have a couple of suggestions for you.

    1. Who told you that you had a slipped disc?
    2. What sort of tests were done and were they repeated at any time after your initial injury??

    People forget that pain is NOT a sign of injury, it is a sign or sensitivity and that injury may occur if something is continued.. otherwise everyone doing BJJ/Judo would be falling to pieces! Failing diagnostic imaging or neurological testing (eg nerve conduction studies etc) it's really difficult for anyone to know whether you have actually ''slipped'' a disc. Even if you had, it is soft tissue that, like most (all)soft tissues heal with a scar that may be sensitive and painful even after the initial injury has healed, matured and stopped being of any real concern.

    Waiting for your reply :' D

  17. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    2 separate physios, consultant back specialist and an MRI show herniated disc. Add to that the sciatica, inability to walk without pain or stand up straight for a few months. It will probably never be 'healed' but I seem to be managing it and long may it continue.


    Incidentally, anyone here know if you can get the Inverted Gear Panda Gi in the UK or do you have to order it from the US?

  18. Late for dinner

    Late for dinner Valued Member

    Healed is relative. We see patients with severe disc injuries and the consultants sometimes decide to manage them with meds to see whether they can avoid doing surgery as the disc scars up and shrinks down. Not everyone goes back to ''perfect'' but you would be surprised how much of a mess can be in someone's back without them knowing it. I have had 2 people walk in with broken necks and neither had any really significant symptoms that would have made that obvious.

    I guess my message is don't give up because people tell you things. Test your body and see what suits you. You might be surprised at your findings. :' D

  19. Belfsst Samurai

    Belfsst Samurai Valued Member

    Thanks LFD. It took a while before I would trust that my back would hold up due to the pain and inconvenience when the disc had 'slipped'. I actually trained for about 6 months before I went to the physio and it was only after she had worked on me that it flared up. I had been compensating by holding myself off to the other side, although I didn't realise it.

    I'm just gonna keep rolling and see what happens....

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