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  • Ryan Tkachuk

The Most Common BJJ Injuries

Jiu jitsu is a popular martial art that emphasizes grappling, submissions holds and ground fighting. While the rewards can be great for those who practice it, injury risks are something to keep in mind; according to Petrisor et. al's 2019 study, 9 out of 10 BJJ practitioners train with at least one injury. To ensure you stay safe while rolling on the mats here’s an informative guide of common injuries sorted by body part - preparing yourself with this knowledge could help steer clear from any potential harm!



Below is a ranked list of the most common jiu jitsu injuries by body part, along with the frequency of injury:

  1. Hands and wrists: common injuries can include sprains, fractures, and tendonitis. These are relatively common, occurring in about 25% of BJJ practitioners.

  2. Shoulders: shoulder injuries occur in about 20% of BJJ practitioners.

  3. Neck: neck injuries occur in about 15% of jiu jitsu practitioners.

  4. Knees: these injuries occur in about 10% of jiu jitsu practitioners.

  5. Feet and ankles: these injuries occur in about 5% of jiu jitsu practitioners.

1. Jiu jitsu practitioners risk painful hand and wrist injuries due to the constant gripping and twisting of sparring. Common culprits include over-rotation, hyperextension, jamming fingers, catching something too hard with an open palm - even just plain bad luck! To keep your hands safe in this physically demanding sport, it is important to understand these risks so you can take steps for prevention when training or competing.



  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones. In the hands and wrists, sprains can occur due to overuse or improper technique when gripping or twisting. Examples include wrist sprains and thumb sprains.

  • Fractures: A fracture is a break in a bone. In the hands and wrists, fractures can occur due to impact or blunt force trauma, such as falling on an outstretched hand. Examples include metacarpal fractures and scaphoid fractures.

  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscle to bone. In the hands and wrists, tendonitis can occur due to overuse or improper technique when gripping or twisting. Examples include De Quervain's tendonitis and extensor tendonitis.

2. Jiu jitsu can be a risky endeavour for the shoulders, particularly since submission holds and arm locks are some of its signature moves. These techniques frequently cause sprains, dislocations and rotator cuff injuries in unsuspecting practitioners; but with proper technique training, injuries like these may become less common as your skills improve!Some common causes of shoulder injuries in jiu jitsu include:



  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones. In the shoulders, sprains can occur due to overuse or improper technique when applying arm locks or submission holds. Examples include AC joint sprains and glenohumeral ligament sprains.

  • Dislocations: A dislocation is a condition in which a bone is displaced from its normal position in a joint. In the shoulders, dislocations can occur due to impact or blunt force trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm. Examples include glenohumeral dislocations and AC dislocations.

  • Rotator cuff injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help to stabilize the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries can occur due to overuse or when submissions like the Kimura or Americana are resisted.

3. Jiu Jitsu can be intense, and so neck injuries are common. Among the most vulnerable areas is the neck due to specially-applied chokes, submission holds and all the wrestling involved- from strains, sprains all the way up to fractures.



  • Strains: A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. In the neck, strains typically occur when you are resist a neck attacking submission or using your head as a 5th limb during wrestling. Examples include sternocleidomastoid strains and scalene strains.

  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones. In the neck, sprains can occur due to overuse or heavy pressure on your neck. Examples include alar ligament sprains and transverse ligament sprains.

  • Fractures: A fracture is a break in a bone. In the neck, fractures can occur due to impact or blunt force trauma, such as falling on the head or neck during a slam or flying submission attempt. These are rare, examples include cervical fractures and vertebral fractures.

4. Jiu jitsu practitioners must take extra care of their knees, as they are highly vulnerable to injury due to the sport's rigorous activity. Twisting and bending combined with high impact rolling can put a strain on knee joints which may lead serious damage - including sprains, strains, or tears. To prevent such injuries from happening in the first place it is important for those involved in Jiu JItsu understand common causes behind them such as missteps during throws, improper landing techniques and twisting while trying to force a pass.



  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones. In the knees, sprains can occur due to quickly applied heel hooks that can target the MCL, ACL and even LCL.

  • Strains: A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. In the knees, strains can occur due to overuse or improper technique when executing certain moves or transitions. Examples include quadriceps strains and hamstrings strains.

  • Tears: A tear is a partial or complete rupture of a muscle or tendon. In the knees, tears can occur due to overuse or improper technique when executing certain moves or transitions. Examples include ACL tears and meniscus

5. The feet and ankles can still be affected by sprains, fractures, and tendonitis. Here are some examples of common foot and ankle injuries in jiu jitsu:



  • Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which is the tissue that connects two bones. In the feet and ankles, sprains can occur due to overuse or improper technique when moving or shifting weight and mainly by resisting ankle locks and toe holds.. Fractures: A fracture is a break in a bone. In the feet and ankles, fractures can occur due to impact or blunt force trauma, such as landing awkwardly on a foot. Examples include metatarsal fractures and talus fractures.

  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscle to bone. In the feet and ankles, tendonitis can occur due to overuse or improper technique resulting in achilles tendonitis and peroneal tendonitis.

Protecting yourself while practicing jiu jitsu is paramount, as even the most experienced practitioners are at risk of injury. To decrease your chances of sustaining an injury in BJJ, take some precautionary measures such as warming up before training or rolling and developing resistance through general physical conditioning. Learning proper technique throughout practice is also essential to limit potential injuries. If you do experience pain when engaging with this style of combat sport, it's important to seek medical assistance and make necessary modifications for a safe session every time!


By preparing yourself with this knowledge of common injuries and their symptoms, you can help steer clear from any potential harm! If you do experience any pain or discomfort while training, be sure to assess your injuries using the BJJ Physio App. With this app you can get an idea of what’s wrong and whether or not you should seek professional medical attention.

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