Judo & Injuries - beginner needs help?

Discussion in 'Jujutsu / Judo' started by this_is_dog, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. this_is_dog

    this_is_dog White Belt

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    Hey all - need a bit of advice here.

    I started Judo last June as a complete beginner - the only thing I did prior to that was a bit of Muay Thai. I didn't have much experience falling or getting thrown around.
    Things were going fairly well - I felt like I was improving after like, 2 months of training, but then I kind of freaked out (don't remember why, I just instinctively fought it in the least intelligent way ever) when I was getting ippon-ed by my sensei and landed on the heel of my right foot.
    I sprained it, predictably - cleared up in about 2 weeks but I had to stop because my old, injury-ridden left ankle started acting up (sprained it about 8 times in a variety of ways and a variety of degrees in the last 10 years).
    Had to MRI the left (found out I had damaged tendons, ligaments, a ganglion cyst - probably from old injuries that I ignored as a kid) brace it for 2 months and undergo physiotherapy (resistance bands, agility ladders, hopping, etc.) for both ankles. In the meantime my right ankle's a bit loose-r but still serviceable. Doctors said my ankles are fine now, I'll only have to go back to the doctors if I sprain it again.
    I'm planning (and truth be told, apprehensive, but eager!) to return to Judo in about 2 months now that both ankles have more or less cleared up, and I continue to do the balance/physio exercises.
    Any advice on how not to end up ruining both ankles again? Limping around and feeling incapacitated sucks. I've got two neoprene sleeves with wraps around them, they seem fairly good. I'm planning to wear both when I return.
    I've felt more pain than is normal falling/breaking fall because I'm rather tense by nature and find it very difficult to flop down harmlessly when I'm thrown.

    TLDR: Two bad ankles; clumsy and very tense; how to prevent injury if I wanna go back to judo?

    Thank you! <3
     
  2. DanT

    DanT Black Belt

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    Continuing to strengthen the ankles and the surrounding muscles would be key. You could do exercises like calf raises and jump squats frequently in your workouts to strengthen the muscles around the ankle. Id also like to add that it's important to maintain flexibility in the joint especially after injury. Look up ankle stretches and do them frequently to loosen the joint to prevent injury. You should double check with your doc before doing this tho, just to make sure.
     
  3. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    Breaking falls should have been the first thing you learned, like any beginner in grappling. If you land on your foot often, try to land on the balls, not the heel. Landing on the balls put the stress on the calves first and progressively through the leg, whereas landing on the heel puts direct stress on the knees and archilles tendon.
     
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  4. KangTsai

    KangTsai 2nd Black Belt

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    There are no muscles around the ankle that move contract/extend the ankle itself. Mostly ligaments and tendons. This is more a technique issue I think.
     
  5. DanT

    DanT Black Belt

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    Yes I'm aware of the distal attachments but the muscles closest to the ankle such as the tibialis anterior can be strengthened as well as any of the muscles that will help prevent rolling the ankle another time. If the ankle is weak it may be because of weak muscles when he lands causing the sprain.
     
  6. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    What the guys above said about doing some training to strengthen the ankles and also to improve their flexibility is quite important, and you should follow that advice.

    Perhaps just as important is to learn from your past injury history and do a few different things (I'm guessing) in your judo training, such as...

    First, at the beginning of your judo class make sure you specifically warm-up the ligaments and tendons in the ankles, feet, toes, and calf muscleature. You can find examples of movements you like on youtube, by asking around, etc. I personally like both sit down ankle rolls (the parallel to wrist stretches but done with the feet rather than twisting hands in weird ways), as well as the standing series of leg circle warm-ups. You've probably seen them done, or have done them yourself, in gym class, etc. Hip/pelvis rotations, hands on knees knee rotations, standing ankle rotations, and standing calf raises on a flat surface or with the negative effect of doing it on a step.

    Get a good warm up for blood flow in the area, and the immediate flexibility, therefore your susceptibility to injury goes up/down by a factor of 2x. In other words, get stronger, and more flexible, and then warm up properly and you are generally about 4x less likely to damage yourself in training.

    Next issue. Ukemi. You should try to embrace ukemi and the falls as your primary task to learn (not the class') primary task, but your own until you can conquer the tendency to tighten up when falling. The person who is a good uke generally learns and progresses twice as fast as those who dohn't try to master the art of uke.

    A tiring, though really good drill, to work on is to grab one of the upper ranks who wants to work on a single, specific throw. Volunteer to be their throwing-body/dummy for a while, and just start taking the throws. A skilled tori won't be blasting you with the throw, you won't be surprised by it (fear reaction causes the stiffening), both of you will be trying tro make the throw as "clean" as possible, and when done properly you'll feel the reinforcement that taking the falls Does Not Hurt. Depending on how hard and high your block is, you may need to do this drill for a month, or 3, or every day for a couple of years, each time before class. It works. Seems sort of masochistic... but it isn't, as the throws are delivered gently, the falls flow, and the landings are controlled. If it isn't, then someone isn't doing it right and you should get the instructor to come and watch you both and figure out where the problem with the drill lies.
     
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