training with injuries – a journal

I’m adding new content to this post chronologically so it reads as a journal.

November 30th – 1st Post

Training with injuries is a part of training, and I expect that the higher the level an athlete competes the larger role injuries play in training. Some injuries are easy to figure out, a broken bone demands rest, but others are a constant struggle between wanting to train and the need to recuperate.

I’ve been training and competing with injuries for over 20 years now, having developed tendonitis at the age of 15. I never figured out the balance then, and struggled through chronic knee problems for years until I hung them up my sophomore year in college. I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson, but that’s still not the case.

The last month or so I’ve not had the best attitude regarding my training. I’ve put in my mat time, but I’ve found that spirit to train with anyone, any time has really been lacking. I know some of it was mental, but I’ve come to realize that some of it was physical, too. I hurt my shoulder this past March training for Pan Ams, and it has affected my game ever since. First it was just remembering to tap early, then I found myself favoring that side, recently when there has been a scramble I’ve sought to protect my shoulder first, then get position. Just like in my youth, rather then finding the balance between getting healthy and keeping up my training, I’ve run my body into the ground.

I got a “blessing” this weekend, an head butt split my eyelid and I’m sure I’ll be off the mats at least 1-2 weeks letting it heal proper. The question remains, however, how to find a balance once I can train again.

I’m a big fan of Alwyn Cosgrove, and think he wrote a tremendous article a few years back about finding balance in physical training / conditioning. In his article, he breaks down the following criteria for a well rounded session:

Mobility Work (10-15 Minutes)

Prehabilitation (5-10 MInutes)

Core Work (5 Minutes)

Plyometrics (5-10 Minutes)

Strength Training (20 Minutes)

Energy System (10-20 Minutes)

Flexibility (Minimum 10 Minutes)

In my case, however, this template is incomplete as it doesn’t represent a critical element of my training…mat time, nor does it consider rehabilitation. Because it is a template, however, it can be adjusted and that is what I am going to be trying to do so I can insure my ability to train as much as I like and ideally continue to compete.

In my mind, the first steps are establishing my goals and determining my “resources” (time, facilities). I’ll outline these in my next post, as well as some of the adjustments I am thinking to make in the template.

December 3rd, 2008 –

I took a few extra days to publish this because I wanted to make sure my goals represented what I really wanted to achieve:

I’d like to drop 15-20 pounds, which would be my lightest weight since college. My thoughts are that my joints hurt less when I’m lighter and it forces me to use technique when I roll.

I want to “fix” my shoulder (i.e. increased strength / mobility)

I want to increase my hip mobility (flexibility and after some research, I think glute work)

I want to strengthen my neck and shoulder girdle

I want to increase my muscular endurance. After years of powerlifting and strongman training, I am horrible at higher repetitions, which I think is critical for my grappling and overall health.

Although I intend to ease back into BJJ and Judo soon, I intend to do so keeping the above goals in mind (my primary goal the past two years has been to roll, roll, roll!). Likewise, if I achieve these goals in a reasonable timeframe, I’d like to compete again in 2009. Unlike last year, I won’t compete in spite of these injuries.

As far as “resources” available to me for training, they are as follows:

American Top Team – Obviously training facilities, but also some great strength training tools (some that I donated, lol)

Bally’s – Don’t laugh, it’s walking distance from my house, costs $7/month, has a wood floored room for running and plyometrics and a small room with mats in addition to traditional strength training equipment

Basketball – A few times per week I end up practicing basketball with my two boys, it’s a great overall workout

Home – I have strength equipment at home that I can fashion some unique workouts out of

Overall, my goal is to try and train twice per day, but with scheduling I’ll be quite pleased with a total of ten workouts. I would define a workout as the following:

BJJ or Judo Class

30 Minutes Live Rolling

Basketball Scrimmage and/or Drills

Strength Training

30+ Minutes Stretching / Mobility Work

I’m not going to bore everyone with a daily breakdown of exactly what I’m doing each day, but I will track my progress relative to the goals above each week. In the next day or so I’ll revert back to the Alywn Cosgrove Template and explain how I’m adapting it to my personal goals.

December 4th –

As promised, I have been working with the Alwyn Cosgrove Template to modify it for my personal requirements, so I’ll outline the template below and add in comments based upon my experience to date:

Mobility Work (10-15 Minutes) – Whenever I am in the gym, mobility takes at least 10-15 minutes, sometimes more (I also try to work in mobility work throughout the day and will do the same before grappling workouts). My general mobility work includes the following:

  • Foam Roller work on my IT band, hip flexors and lats as well as any problem areas
  • Starting with my neck and working down through my ankles I do circles in both directions
  • A variety of jumping jacks
  • Leg Swings – multiple sets
  • I practice a number of judo techniques against a wall and walking across the gym floor
  • Hip / Glute mobility and activation
  • Some form running a la the Parisi Warm Up Method

I work on this until I have a good sweat going and I feel ready to train (mentally and physically)

Prehabilitation (5-10 MInutes) – Rotator Cuff every workout, combined with a rotation of neck, ankle, upper back / delt work, the timeframe for this is largely by feel but I want to make certain that my shoulders are getting the work they need to get healthy. This has become my prehab & rehab section and right now is taking as much or more time and precedence as my strength training.

Core Work (5 Minutes) – Lots of planks, oblique work, heavier situps and stability ball work, I make sure to do this but blow though it pretty quickly.

Plyometrics (5-10 Minutes) – For the lower body I’m doing a variety of jumping exercises and as my hamstring continues to improve I’m looking incorporate some very short sprints to focus on explosive strength. So far, jumping on a box from a dead stop and doing some step jumps has been fine. For the upper body I’m trying to to stress the shoulders too much so it is largely stability ball rollouts at this point. I’ll get back to plyo pushups soon.

Strength Training (20 Minutes) – I am splitting my body between upper and lower. Each strength workout involves a circuit of 1-3 bigger, power moves and then I tend to circuit train on machines with higher reps to build on the muscular endurance I’ve been lacking.

Energy System (10-20 Minutes) – Since I am not training for competition at this point, my energy system work comes from the circuit training, basketball and hopefully next week bjj / judo training

Flexibility (Minimum 10 Minutes) – I stretch after lifting and each day try to work in a minimum of 30 minutes stretching

The challenge with all of this is to find balance between these workouts and my bjj/judo, if I’m able to train next week I’ll outline my training schedule with the focus of getting in 3-4 gym sessions. What will be unique for me is that the gym sessions must take priority over the grappling until I get healthier.

December 8th – First Week Recap

It was a challenging week but in total I completed the following workouts (relative to my goal of 10/week):

1 Grappling Session (Friday, drilling)

2 Basketball Sessions

4 Gym Sessions (as per template above)

2 General Conditioning Sessions

Not quite 10, but I was pretty pleased. I did notice that the break and the emphasis upon pre-rehab of my shoulder certainly helped both mobility and strength of the joint..something to build upon. One change I will make going forward is to do full body lifting as now that my eye has healed and I can train some I won’t be lifting as many days. As of now, this week’s schedule looks like this:

4 Grappling Sessions

3 Lifting Sessions

1 Basketball Session

I could add workouts, but I don’t want to push too hard since I’m getting back on the mats this week. I’d like to find a balance between my condition and my technique work, especially since the conditioning goals are my main priority right now.

December 14th – Update

I was sick for two days this week, but managed to get on the mats for three sessions and in the gym twice.  Not a great week, but it is what made sense.

This coming week will be my first “normal” week on the mats in at least a month, I’m hoping for at least five “sessions” plus time in the gym.  I’ve adjusted my grappling work to include the same warm up as for lifting and it has helped immensely.

Fight Harder! Fight Longer!



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December 2008
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