Training, Injuries, and Getting Back on the Mats

Shoulder Injury

By Bryan Preston

Professional athletes, fighters, tournament competitors, and the everyday martial artist, one thing we all have in common is that we all can face injury. Most of us are not professional athletes/ fighters so the road back into training means something different to us. Adrian Peterson, the running back for the Minnesota Vikings had major knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL and MCL on December 26th 2011. He started week 1 in September 2012 and in less than a year’s time from his injury had one of the best seasons for a running back in the NFL. For an athlete like Adrian Peterson the need to get back on the field soon rather than later can determine his career. Most people don’t face the same type of pressure and approach therapy and recovery from an injury differently.

Almost 2 years ago, I tore my Labrum in my shoulder at my BJJ promotion. My training partner shot in on a double leg and as I was going to the mats I stuck my arm out and landed with my arm posted on the mat. It wasn’t until the next day that I knew something was really wrong and went to see an orthopedic surgeon. After getting an MRI, I found out that I had torn my Labrum and decided to rehab my shoulder to see if I could avoid surgery. I rehabbed my shoulder for a full year before deciding to have surgery to fix the tear. After surgery I went through about 4 months of rehab before being cleared for full activity. It has been 10 months since my surgery and I am basically back to 100% but there are a few things that I am still working on. One example is overhead pressing exercises like a dumbbell shoulder press is still something that is not back to where it was before.

When recovering from injury it is very important to be smart about your approach, making sure to follow your doctor’s orders and not over do it. Going into my surgery I knew I was looking at about 6 months of rehab before I’d be training 100% again. I stuck to my restrictions and did the things I was supposed to do and was cleared in about 4 months, a little ahead of schedule. I was told from the beginning that I would feel like I could do more but it was important not to, because it could over stretch the repair too soon and then my shoulder wouldn’t heal as well and could lose some stability in the joint.

So I’d like to leave you with a few tips to follow when dealing with a shoulder or any other injury you might face. First, have patience. If you have made the decision to have surgery and it is the right thing for you then you have to look at it big picture. The healing process needs to happen before you can get back on the mats. Too many people end up having 2nd or 3rd surgeries because they try and get back before they are ready. Listen to your doctor and follow the plan. Everyone is going to give you free advice and tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. If you have faith in your doctor and trust him, then trust his plan. In 2, 4, 6 months whatever your rehab plan is, you’ll be back and stronger than ever. Finally, keep doing what’s working! Don’t be the person that starts to feel better and stops their rehab/ exercises because you don’t need them anymore. You’re feeling better because you are sticking to the plan. Doing your warm ups, stretches, and strengthening the injured area are all things people can’t wait to stop doing once they are cleared but then they wonder why they have a set back or can’t get back to 100%.

Take care of your joints, treat them well and they will last you a life time. Don’t forget, your overall fitness level has been shown to drastically effect your recovery time. The more physically fit you are the more likely that you will recover faster from injury. So stay in shape and stay on the mats longer.

Author: Bryan Preston. Owner and Head Instructor at Martial Arts Fitness Center. An accomplished Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, Fitness enthusiast, Personal Trainer, Physical Therapy student working toward his degree and Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at NJMA

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