The Technical Benefits of Training (Carefully!) with an Injury

The Technical Benefits of Training (Carefully!) with an InjuryAbout 6 weeks ago, I sprained my left ring finger. No, I didn’t do it training in anything martial arts related. I managed to catch it mid jump while doing squat jumps on  my stairs. It has been an annoying recovery process, having had to scale back in a wide variety of physical activities as it healed, but a couple of weeks ago, it was starting to get well enough that I was willing to try pushing it a little. A couple of Sundays ago, I went climbing at the climbing gym.

What Climbing with an Injury Taught Me

Of course I had to take it easy. Certain types of gripping, especially when under pressure, could have been precarious for my finger. I stuck to easier routes, ones that weren’t at the limit of my usual skill level. I ended up focusing intensely on relying on legs over arms, and palms over fingers. This really should be the emphasis anyway with more technical climbing anyway, but the injury created a good reason for me to work on it. It reminded me why you shouldn’t always climb at the edge of your technical limits. When you do, you’re more likely to rely on strength when your technical ability fails.

Applying Injury Training to Grappling

This all translates over to martial arts training too. Take grappling for example. Finger and toe injuries are fairly common, and you should, of course, be very careful with them in the first couple of weeks of recovery from a serious sprain. But once you get to a good enough point, you can tape your finger and work on technique. You don’t have to do full live grappling with someone 50 lbs heavier than you to get something from your training. You can start out just drilling techniques and as you heal further, you can gentle live training with people smaller than you whom you can trust to take it easy and work around your injury. And in avoiding the use of your grip on your injured hand, you’ll discover new ways to use the rest of your body to compensate, making you a more technical fighter.

This concept is not limited to grappling. There are lots of ways you can work at a lower level when working around injuries to make technical gains. Have you applied this concept in your own training? If so, please share your experiences in the comments. 🙂

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