Neck problems. Advice

I've had serious neck issues. Had to stop BJJ for about 8 years. I do want to BJJ again but am still concerned. Problems are mainly grappling with crazy strong white belts who go all out. Money is not issue. Should I simply take privates with a black belt? I don't want to have to avoid spazzers every class.

Thx for the advice

Tell your instructor - he should be matching you up with sparring partners who are sensible and won't injure you. If not, that's poor coaching IMO.

James

I'm not one of the experts around here (and there are many) but I am just getting back in to BJJ after an even longer lapse in doing any training and have so many injuries, I can't count them....here's how I am approaching it. 

1. I am starting over and don't have any need to "be good" (part of why I got hurt when I was younger was I was one of the "good guys" at the school and I didn't want to "get tapped."....that was a lifetime ago and I no longer care about that stuff)

2. I have told myself that absolutely any submission that I have to use sheer will and/or strength to avoid I will tap...I am trying to enjoy myself first and foremost and if I have any goals around Jiu Jitsu it is get my technique better and the reality is at almost 40, even if I can power out of something today I won't always be able to.  If someone is obviously a bit more aggro, I will get pretty defensive and avoid the scrambles. 

3. I intentionally went with a BJJ school instead of an "MMA" school that teaches MMA.  I experienced a lot of meat heads at the gyms that "trane UFC" 

Aside from that, I think the individual school culture is a huge deal...sorry for the FRAT, but I sort of agonized with the decision of getting back in for fear of similar injury concerns. 

 

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Ryan nailed it.

I'll add: you're likely part of the problem. Redefine winning -- break winning into smaller, bute-sized pieces. Example: hitting a sweep is a micro-win, even if you get mauled the other 95% of the roll. Defending a choke is a micro-win -- take it!

Pick a gym where skills acquisition is prioritized over toughness and grit. Read: more drilling, less sparring. If your gym is geared toward producing mat monsters, that's great -- but it's not for you just now. The environment in which you train will very much help determine how you train -- don't train with monsters.

I know the above advice will be scoffed at by the young bucks, but despite being 47 I can still carry my kids down the stairs to bed at night and I don't know any physiotherapists on a first name basis.

And I'm a better grappler than I was two years ago, by a long shot, which is to say that I'm still progressing.

I'll take that over a local tourney silver medal any day

I have neck problems from a bulging disk, so here is my advice.

1. just tap to anything that can hurt you, no more gutting it out and fighting everything. With that said, develop your defenses.

2. frames, and along with that bracing. brace you head with your hands....it make your neck and arm stronger frame.

3. positional spar more. you get reps with resistance, but more predictable, controllable, etc. this will also develop your defenses.

4. did i mention tap? I never was a mat animal, but I hated to tap. Now I dont care, because of my chronic issues in neck, shoulder and hip.

5. find someplace that meets your needs, talk to partners....and dont be an asshat that loke to dish it, but cant take it or theyll answer in kind.

Don't let anyone grab your head! 

be aware of when your neck is at risk.

when playing a guard when you're on your back (e.g. closed guard) just be aware that you can get stacked which can really fuck up a neck.

a lot of the sitting up guards make it easier for your opponent to grab a hold of your neck--which can also fuck it up. so watch out for those.

when passing, i find that standing passes are better for the neck. but they do stress my lower extremities a bit more. plus i get swept more which leads me to having play on the bottom which sucks for necks.

joe canada - Ryan nailed it.

I'll add: you're likely part of the problem. Redefine winning -- break winning into smaller, bute-sized pieces. Example: hitting a sweep is a micro-win, even if you get mauled the other 95% of the roll. Defending a choke is a micro-win -- take it!

Pick a gym where skills acquisition is prioritized over toughness and grit. Read: more drilling, less sparring. If your gym is geared toward producing mat monsters, that's great -- but it's not for you just now. The environment in which you train will very much help determine how you train -- don't train with monsters.

I know the above advice will be scoffed at by the young bucks, but despite being 47 I can still carry my kids down the stairs to bed at night and I don't know any physiotherapists on a first name basis.

And I'm a better grappler than I was two years ago, by a long shot, which is to say that I'm still progressing.

I'll take that over a local tourney silver medal any day

Well said.

don't let anyone practice a move "cooperatively" on your neck. I've almost never gotten hurt in sparring, but I have gotten hurt when someone just wants to try a new loop choke then turns it into a crucifix and holds it for like 2 seconds longer than I'm tapping. Idiots!

Stop trying to win.

 

I started training with White Belts again but I talk to them a bit before we roll and usually say something like "im not trying to beat you, im gonna try and help you get better, ill give you openings and I want you to take them but not fast and not hard, take it easy, lets have fun"

I'm a brown belt that's been training for about 10 years. I had all sorts of neck and upper back issues. I started doing yoga seriously about a year and a half ago and I feel amazing. No more pain anywhere despite the fact that I roll the same way I did before. I will say that I practice at a studio under really good and knowledgeable teachers, which helps immensely. Going to classes where teachers offer frequent adjustments and corrections can help you from developing bad habits which may lead to injury (very similar to BJJ in this regard).

I also doubt my issues are as serious as yours, but just wanted to add something different than the great advice already offered above.

Happy training.

I have a jacked up disc right now. Light weightlifting and yoga does wonders 

Thx for the fantastic input guys.

I have no ego when I train. I don't mind tapping at all. I never spazz. And I make it my objective to be as technical as possible. I'll try yoga, good advice

BTW-I'm giving this a try...http://yogaforbjj.net

ryanJ -


BTW-I'm giving this a try...http://yogaforbjj.net

Hopefully I'm not coming across as a dick by saying this, but I would be careful of just doing at home yoga programs without the supervision of a qualified teacher. I'd say it sort of like just learning BJJ from videos with your buddies as opposed to going to a real gym.

Even if you think you're doing a pose correctly, there's a good chance you're missing something. I can recall doing a basic triangle pose during a class one time. I thought I had this pose nailed and was feeling quite good about myself. The teacher came around and saw me, then moved my head and hips into proper position. The pose felt completely different.

Even something as basic as a forward fold or a downward dog has a lot going on. If you develop bad habits because you haven't been corrected, you can end up hurting yourself. In my experience, yoga teachers are also very happy to answer questions after class. I take full advantage of this and have made a tonne of progress through the one on one conversations I've had with my teachers.

That said, there are a lot of shitty teachers out there that have barely out any time in and have just done a short teachers training after a couple of years of practice (again, similar to BJJ). Going to classes led by teachers like this won't be any better than doing it at home, so make sure to find a good teacher.

At the very least, I think people who practice at home should supplement with a class at a good studio a few times a month.

pbody - 
ryanJ -


BTW-I'm giving this a try...http://yogaforbjj.net

Hopefully I'm not coming across as a dick by saying this, but I would be careful of just doing at home yoga programs without the supervision of a qualified teacher. I'd say it sort of like just learning BJJ from videos with your buddies as opposed to going to a real gym.

Even if you think you're doing a pose correctly, there's a good chance you're missing something. I can recall doing a basic triangle pose during a class one time. I thought I had this pose nailed and was feeling quite good about myself. The teacher came around and saw me, then moved my head and hips into proper position. The pose felt completely different.

Even something as basic as a forward fold or a downward dog has a lot going on. If you develop bad habits because you haven't been corrected, you can end up hurting yourself. In my experience, yoga teachers are also very happy to answer questions after class. I take full advantage of this and have made a tonne of progress through the one on one conversations I've had with my teachers.

That said, there are a lot of shitty teachers out there that have barely out any time in and have just done a short teachers training after a couple of years of practice (again, similar to BJJ). Going to classes led by teachers like this won't be any better than doing it at home, so make sure to find a good teacher.

At the very least, I think people who practice at home should supplement with a class at a good studio a few times a month.


Ah, that's a good point...I actually have been doing "home yoga" on and off for a long time, but it does make sense to get at least a few classes in to make sure I am not missing some nuances that might actually be causing more harm than good. 

mataleo1 - I've had serious neck issues. Had to stop BJJ for about 8 years. I do want to BJJ again but am still concerned. Problems are mainly grappling with crazy strong white belts who go all out. Money is not issue. Should I simply take privates with a black belt? I don't want to have to avoid spazzers every class.

Thx for the advice

If money is not an issue you should look into getting a good rehab specialist. If you have previous neck injuries you should make sure your neck can operate as optimally as possible.

  • Make sure your neck is strong and stable.
  • Make sure your neck is as mobile as possible.
  • Make sure your upper back is as mobile as possible.

For returning to jiu jitsu:

  • Avoid inverting.
  • Tap to neck cranks.
  • Gi likely will be nicer on the neck as nogi chokes are not as precise so they may crank a bit more than gi chokes.

I think every athlete, jiu jitsu athlete specifically, should learn how to take care of their body to maximize their longevity in the art.

I was having some serious neck issues for 5 long months, but a foam roller and some careful and consistent YouTube decompression therapy really brought me back. One thing I noticed is while I had stopped overhead pressing around that time, when I started up again, this time with a kettle bell, there was a lot of clicking and crackling auto-adjustment going on. *I think heavy overhead presses helped with the recovery and stabilized the area in ways I didn't really consider before.