Chiropractic Care for Jiu-Jitsu
In Jiu-Jitsu, there is no way around getting folded up like a pretzel, smashed, or being put in positions your body is forced to go into. Just as much as supplements, rest days, massages, etc. are important to your recovery in BJJ, so is chiropractic care.
First, let me start off by saying that not all chiropractors are trying to scam you (I recently read this in a Facebook post). Yes, it does take some consistency (like everything else) before you start seeing real results… so any recommendations of going up to 3 times per week isn’t always a scam. Neither are the x-rays, which are totally necessary to see what is really going on with your skeletal foundation. Think about it this way: when the foundation of a house has shifted, it can cause many problems like cracks in the walls, squeaky floors, and doors that won’t close properly. You can try to patch the walls or tighten the hinges, but sooner or later you will need to address the foundation. If you don’t, the problems keep coming back and could potentially worsen.
As a child, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, but it wasn’t bad enough to address with rehab/therapy. When I was growing up, chiropractic care was not something that was popular or anything that any of our friends or family did. At that time, my shoulder and neck muscles were known to be super tight and tense, which wouldn’t even loosen up with massage. Later I realized that this was a direct result of my body trying to overcompensate for the shift in my spine. Fast forward to around 2008 when I met a chiropractor through mutual friends. He eventually became a friend of mine and at the time, my insurance covered a good percentage of the visits so I decided to try it out. Because he was an active guy, he understood the nuances of sports related injuries and was able to help me understand more about what was going on with my body.
At the time, however, I had been going because I wanted to see what chiropractic care could do for me and to help make my spine straighter. It was not yet to the point where I had been experiencing chronic pain like I had a few months ago nor had I been training like I am now. I eventually stopped seeing him because I moved and didn’t start seeing another chiropractor until 2016 when I began to experience chronic pain in my hip. I did another set of x-rays, as I’m sure my body changed since the first set taken prior to training more frequently. It was discovered that I had torn a ligament in my neck (I had no clue), my hips were clearly displaced, my neck was compressed, and my neck and shoulder muscles were rock solid and stressed. I began to see him regularly, 3 times a week. Within a couple of weeks, my body began responding to the adjustments. My muscles became looser and more pliable, the adjustments began to stick, and my neck decompressed – giving me an additional inch back in height. It was maybe 5 months into my treatment when I moved again and stopped my treatment (very much to my dismay because it brought so much relief to my body and I was looking forward to seeing real results).
Now here we are in 2018. A few months ago, I began experiencing chronic low back pain on my left side. My training regimen had changed dramatically since I moved and I was now training 6 times a week – porrada kind of training lol. Anyway, while I do have a high pain tolerance, the chronic aching and inability to stand or walk for long periods of time signified that I really needed to get help to address this. I was told by some of my teammates that there was a chiropractor that trained with us so I immediately went to talk to him (I secretly hoped he would adjust me right then and there after class but he didn’t). I scheduled an appointment the next day, took new x-rays, and he quickly decided that I was a good candidate for his structural rehab program (not everyone is). I started treatment that day and the rest is history. I’ve been going to see him 3 times a week for the last 10 weeks (out of 12 weeks). After that, I will go in for routine maintenance, which is much like an oil change on a car. On the days that I don’t go to see him, I have exercises and stretches that I can do at home that simulate some of the rehab that I do in the office. And as you can see by the then and now comparisons of my back, the results have been amazing. Not only do I feel so much better, I am not as self-conscious as I used to be about my posture.
So let’s think about it this way: we put our bodies through rigorous training anywhere up to 3-6 times a week. During those training sessions, your neck, back, and just about every part of your body gets worked. This is where your foundation starts to shift. Without any maintenance on it, parts will start to break down. This is especially true as we begin to age. Our bodies are not able to perform or operate as well as it used to. So we need to take care of it, an investment, if you will. A lot of insurance companies include chiropractic care in their health plans so rather than paying full price for a visit, you could be paying $15 per visit… which is not much if you think about how that will help your body over time.
Finding the right chiropractor, however, is not an easy task. My first and foremost key to finding the right doctor for you is to do your research and schedule a FREE consultation. Most chiropractors have websites/social media, which you can see what they focus on. In my case, my chiropractor focuses on structural correction and disc restoration. He also trains jiu-jitsu, which helps him to understand my body and what it goes through. After talking to him at the consultation, much like my second chiropractor, I felt like we both were in agreement with what I expected to get out of the treatment. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, if they can’t answer your questions thoroughly, or if you feel like they’re just trying to sell you something, they are not the one for you. On a side note, I’ve actually found that my best two doctors were the ones that didn’t schedule appointments and only took walk ins…
Chiropractic care may not be for everyone. However, just remember that with the amount of stress that you put your body through during training – you need to be aware of when the small issues become part of a larger problem that should be addressed. If not, you will shorten the amount of time that you are able to train as hard as you want. And who doesn’t want to go #everydayporrada? Take care of your body and it will pay dividends in the long run. Your neck, back, and muscles will definitely thank you too.