How to prevent injuries?

There's been a lot of threads lately about getting injured and rehabilitation doing judo, but I was wondering what you high level judoka do to avoid injury as much as possible?

I know that injuries ARE going to happen, especially with resisting opponents, addrenaline, and competition and whatnot, but what can someone do to prevent as much physical damage as humanly possible?

Make sure you are in sufficiently good physical condition and skill level for the intensity of practice you are doing. Many people get injured because they go too hard to fast.

For example, if you have a weak lower back or legs, I don't suggest you start of practicing reps of Ura Nage all night long, or even at all.

Ben R.

I don't know what "level" I am, but I plan to be doing this until I die. I have had a lot of friends who started with me or even after me but quit at some point when they got hurt. Usually being stubborn about not falling in randori. I have seen a ton of guys who come back to practice after some time off, lost their cardio, and try to fight at a speed they can't maintain. The worst off are the ones who simply can't fight in a lower gear at all - they always have to escalate and always get banged up.

I see a lot of that as things you can choose for yourself. The ones who don't have a choice are the active competitors gunning for elite points. Those are the guys that have to train or fight through injuries because they only have a certain window of opportunity.

Not a high-level judoka, but had eight relatively injury-free years before Nature caught up with me in the form of a herniated disk. My personal tips:

Keep your weight on your toes, knees slightly flexed at all times.

Be light and mobile. Defend with movement rather than rigidity. (This takes time and confidence, but is a lot safer, and better Judo.)

Don't be overweight (puts extra stress on knees). Thin and fit is the way to go.

Work flexibility. Often neglected, but very important for injury prevention.

Know who the dangerous training partners are (i.e. the people who don't give a **** about their partners' safety) and avoid them.

Let your grip be broken before your fingers are. You can always take a new grip.

Take your breakfalls. Know when to stop resisting and concentrate on taking a good fall. (This is a skill that develops with time -- beginners are better to err on the side of caution and just fall).

Never try to stop a fall by stretching out an arm. See pic of Yoshida at Sydney for inspiration. (Personal note: dislocated a finger doing this.)

In newaza, tap early, tap often.

When you're fatigued and your technique starts to go to pieces, be extra careful.

Learn to recognize highly dangerous situations (i.e. two people locked up, legs entangled, grunting and straining to finish their throws with brute strength). When in a physically dangerous situation, get the hell out or tap -- don't worry about winning.

Watch out for twinges. If every time you attempt drop seoi-nage, you get a twinge in your shoulder, you're headed for a chronic injury. Adapt your technique so it doesn't hurt, or stop doing that technique.

Listen to other people's injury stories and learn from them. (You make friends this way, too, as everyone loves telling his or her war stories.)

Overall, make remaining uninjured your primary goal in every class. This may mean taking it easy once in a while, tapping when you want to fight on, etc., but staying healthy will be the best thing for your Judo in the long run, and as time goes on, increased skill will allow you to take greater chances safely.

My motto: every class you can walk away from is a good class!

in all honesty, i think that in judo you just have to figure out what your body can and cant do and exploit your style of judo to reflect those things.

to prevent injuries i think you have to do the basics first and foremost.. that means make your body comfortable and relaxed with what you are going to do... fear breeds stiffness which breeds injuries. i think the other thing that breeds injuries is not knowing how to react to a lot of what goes on in the heat of the moment. with a lot of what happens in judo today if you react the wrong way you can just get ruined, epsecially with all the pick-ups and take-downs that wrap up the legs.

other than that, id say on a day to day basis make sure you are warmed-up and sweating and then stretch out really good. its okay to start with newaza to get a sweat going, then stretch and get into tachiwaza...