By participating in sports one must acknowledge that injuries are always a risk. NCAA sports average an injury rate of 14.5 per 1,000 athletic exposures (AEs )across 15 sports, ranging from a low of 1.9 injuries per 1,000 AEs (men’s baseball) to a high of 35.9 injuries per 1,000 AEs (football). (Hootman et al.). BJJ in contrast has an injury rate ranging from 9.2 per 1000 AEs (Scroggin et al, 2014) to 24.9 per 1000 AEs (Kreiswirth et al, 2014). These data would indicate that BJJ is no more prone of injury than other sports routinely played at the college level. Among the various competitive martial arts, BJJ has a lower rate of injury per AE than judo, tae kwon do, wrestling, and MMA. This is mainly due to the ruleset of BJJ disallowing strikes, reducing the risk of lacerations and head trauma. Since BJJ is primarily focused on ground combat, it also has a lower injury rate than other grappling sports due to the decreased rate of being thrown. The risk for injury is also lower due to the ability of a competitor to “tap out” surrendering the match and stopping
However, injuries do occur in BJJ tournaments. The most common injuries that occur during competition are musculoskeletal, followed by rib injuries, lacerations, and cervical strain.The most common musculoskeletal injuries were elbow injuries due to attacks on the arm such as armbars and kimuras which cause powerful direction hyperextension force to the elbow and kimuras which create excess internal rotation of the shoulder and elbow. These attacks cause LCL and MCL sprains, elbow dislocation, tenderness, and anterior sprains. Knee injuries also occurred due to direct pressure, overexertion during guard passing and sweeping, and impacts during takedowns. These injuries consist of mcl, lcl, acl sprains, and meniscus tears.
Although the incidences of injury during tournament competition is low, athletes spend a small fraction of their athletic life performing in competition, and will spend hundreds of hours in training practice per tournament. Due to this, 79% of injuries occur during training (Del Vicchio et al 2016). The accumulated hours of training can result in chronic injuries such as low back pain and tendinitis. Some injuries are “freak accidents” are caused by unforeseen circumstances. These injuries are considered non preventable injuries due to the inability to protect against them. Some of these injuries are due to the inherent techniques that are purposely used to attack joints and due to overexertion and strain of joints during movements. (Scoggin et al 2014). Some injuries that occur due in BJJ develop over time due to the style adopted by the athlete, whether to athlete adopts a guard passing or guard playing style. By adopting a certain style and repeatedly performing the same movements with less variation an athlete will develop muscular imbalances and joint injuries due to stress. Guard players often load their knees and hips in order to withstand an opponent’s movements during guard passing, placing much stress and strain on their lower body joints. Guard passing players experience greater stress on their shoulders and elbows due to the greater chances of being caught in armbars and other submissions. (DelVicchio et al 2016)