Guest Blog – Adapting BJJ Around My Back Injury

by Tracey Robinson

New and old injuries need to be treated with care. Fortunately, BJJ can be adapted around your body. In this guest blog, Tracey talks about how we’ve been able to accommodate her back injury in classes at Artemis BJJ.

Artemis BJJ Tracey and Paul back injury adapt1I slipped a disc in my lower back about 4 years ago which caused nerve damage and I lost complete sensation in both legs.  After lots of physio, I regained all feeling and use in my right leg, but still have no feeling down the left side of my left leg and foot.  My balance isn’t very good now either, since my left leg doesn’t give any support (or rather, it does, but I can’t feel it!)

I do yoga twice a week to strengthen my back and core, but I have to take every precaution that I don’t hurt my back in class.  After a bit of a shaky start when I wasn’t really sure what moves I could or couldn’t do, I know my capabilities and limitations now.

In class I have to avoid:

  • Knocks or jolts to my lower back, so I cannot have standing sweeps done on me

  • Footlocks on my left foot as I cannot feel them!

Things I probably do differently to everyone else:

  • Don’t stand up during sparring, unless partnered with a higher level belt who has the experience to alter their game to avoid sweeping me. They can also steady me if I lose my balance.

  • Tend to do most moves on one side only where the right leg needs the strength.

  • Aim for closed guard/side control positions where my back feels the safest.

How Artemis BJJ help

I now attend the mixed class more often than the women’s class.  Usually, the moves are a lot more challenging on my back and new to me.  To make sure I feel safe and at ease during drilling and rolling, Can (instructor):

  • Partners me whenever possible with Paul, a blue belt

  • Lets me know before the class what move will be taught.  If I don’t feel safe doing it, Paul can adapt it or teach me a different one.

  • Is careful of who he partners me with, as I am very wary of sparring with new people

Artemis BJJ Tracey and Paul back injury adapt2I may not be able to take part or do everything that everyone else can do, but it doesn’t matter, I can still learn jiu jitsu and be a part of the class which is great!!

Tracey has been training at Artemis BJJ for a year and brings her son along to open mat sessions. Check out her BJJ art work here

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