As far as I can remember, I’ve been engaged in sports. I’ve participated in numerous sports throughout the years and even played football, baseball, and rugby in college at the US Naval Academy. In my nearly 40-year career as an athlete, I’ve encountered several injuries. I’ve experienced sprained ankles, a torn meniscus, a partially torn PCL, separated shoulders, back tweaks, concussions, and various lower leg strains. However, my most recent injury varied from the previous ones as it wasn’t the result of a specific event.
On April 9th, I woke up with extreme leg pain, numbness, and tingling in my feet. I knew something was wrong with my back because of the nerve pain, but I didn’t know how serious it was. After some people suggested that I get an MRI, I went to the emergency room a few days later. The MRI showed that I have 3 disc bulges in L2/L3, L3/L4, and L4/L5, and stenosis in the central canal of the spinal cord.
Was it Jiu-Jitsu?
A few friends asked me if I thought Jiu-Jitsu was the cause of my injury, but I don’t like to point fingers, so I thought about it for a few days. Looking back, I’ve been pushing myself hard for the last 6 to 8 weeks. I had a busy schedule that included 5 hours of bike training, 3 hours of strength training, 3 hours of beginner Jiu-Jitsu class, and lots of landscaping and house projects. We even installed turf for some outdoor classes, and one of the pieces of turf weighed around 2000 lbs. Despite my nightly recovery work, I neglected to listen to my body, which had been experiencing leg pain and tingling for weeks before my injury. I also had a sore lower back for a few days after digging 85 feet of trench to get power for a hot tub in the backyard.
So, was it Jiu-Jitsu that caused my injury? I don’t think so. I think it just sped up what was bound to happen eventually. My back stenosis was already there, and it was only a matter of time before it caused problems. My fitness and strength allowed me to push myself past my limits while training, and my body wasn’t used to the consistent hip flexion required for Jiu-Jitsu. Moving the turf was the final straw, but I was still able to ride my ebike the next day.
Doing Too Much!
Doing too much eventually caught up with me, but I have no regrets about the sports I’ve played. I loved Jiu-Jitsu, and it will surely be missed. To pursue my passions, I need to make some changes. More days off and hobbies that don’t require as much physical exertion are in order. While I’ll still ride my bike, I’ll be more careful to avoid injury. Additionally, daily core work and stability exercises will be incorporated, and I’ll spend more time relaxing at night, such as soaking in the hot tub (once it’s installed), sitting on the couch with my legs up, and taking ice baths (when it’s installed). To manage stress, I’ll hike more instead of running and go camping and fishing.
We’re all human, and we all need to reflect on our lives and what we’re doing to impact them. This injury set me back, but it also opened my eyes. I’ll learn from it and become a better version of myself.