View Full Version : back to training after injuries

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02-12-2011, 01:19 PM
Last Nov I had a serious facial injury and am anxious to get back on the mat.

My doctors, of course, would have me never doing anything strenuous again. I had a complex zygomatic fracture (s)

We don't think of how often we have an arm or armpit or our faces are touched since usually it's not done with much force.

I am far from finished healing as I have screws and a plate where my cheek is. I look normal except for some residual swelling but
I'm wondering since I can't really ask a doctor since they'll say no.

I'm thinking maybe 6 months ( it's been 4 already.) this will change the way I train. I'll have to be very aware , very careful and maybe my aikido will improve. If I do re fracture my orbit or cheek or zygomatic bone..... I suppose I'll have to get it fixed again.

These accidents are common among Full Contact MA ( blow out fractures theyre called) and Auto accidents as well as falls ( I fell and hit a concrete planter) If anybody ( Maybe George Ledyard sensei )? has intelligent, useful input or just an opinion please feel free to give it.

Walter Martindale
02-12-2011, 05:26 PM
I think the important bit is "far from finished healing." When you're healed, think about returning - consider some form of face mask accompanied by an explanation to your dojo/practice partners.

I know of a person in NZ who trained in Aikido for a few years with the body-armour part of a kendo uniform protecting his kidney transplant - which was between skin and muscle wall - until he was sure enough of non-rejection to have the kidney relocated "inside". He still trains but without the armour. I don't know how long he took off after the initial transplant but - look after yourself - if training is so important that you'll risk having your face wrecked again, that's up to you, but I'm sure the most important thing is your present status being "far from finished healing".
Possibly not what you wanted to hear...

graham christian
02-12-2011, 07:40 PM
Hi James.
I think you are missing an opportunity. You can take advice from your doctor or doctors and then have a probable timescale to work with before you get bac on the mat.
However, don't equate 'getting back on the mat' with 'until then I can't learn any more Aikido'.
There are many things you can do. Watching others train from the outside you can learn a lot as you can objectively observe and relate the experiences to your own. You could take the time to study, whether it be the history of Aikido or various forms of Aikido or many many aspects of it. You could visit other dojo's of different styles and broaden your knowledge. You could even get things done that you didn't have time for before.
The point I'm making here is rather than being frustrated why not see it as an opportunity and accept it will heal meanwhile.
Good luck.G.

Janet Rosen
02-12-2011, 11:56 PM
James, many of us have had to take breaks of anywhere from six months to that many years from outright on-the-mat training due to illness or injury, surgery, rehab etc.
I want to second Graham's suggestions about alternate ways of both training and staying connected to your dojo community. Simply watching class once a week can be incredibly instructive. Not only are you learning by watching (and watching other's mistakes can be very valuable) but I found that my body sitting in a chair would be doing tiny muscle movements and I think the small movements and visualizations were part of why I seemed to not really lose what I'd learned previously - didn't regress - during a couple of prolonged breaks.
I went into one break knowing how long it would be, and planned to spend many hours during that year doing a research project on knee injuries in aikido. It was directly relevant to my training, very interesting to do, and broadened my aikido community thanks to the 101 participating dojos.

In terms of getting back on the mat... The fear of reinjury and the reality of the risk is there for each if us. There is no "right" answer. Some folks walk away, some don't. My family thought I was nuts to resume training; Stu thought about issuing an ultimatum but after over twenty yrs together at that point he knew better than to actually do so :-) ... The main thing I want to suggest is trying a slow, staggered approach to returning. Does your dojo do a good warmup and as a group do solo weapons kata? Pretty low risk. Same with tai no henko. As you feel more comfortable, try slow grabbing attacks with partners willing to work with you on just going to the very edge of taking balance so nobody is going to the ground.

Keep us posted... And best of luck.

Lyle Laizure
02-13-2011, 08:18 AM
Training with injuries is common practice for some but I don't think with such severe injuries. As the instructor I would require a doctors note saying you are able to practice before letting you back on the mat. If for any reason you were to reinjure yourself it could be very dangerous for yourself. You should listen to your doctors of course. They have your best interest in mind. I am sure though you could perform some aspects of practice without risk. You could always study swordsmanship in the short term.

02-13-2011, 03:11 PM
I think the best practice in this case is to make sure that your doctor knows, in detail, what your practice is like, and then ask for his/her recommendation. Doctors make recommendations based on typical activities or what they know or can guess. Sometimes it fits and sometimes it doesn't. The way to get good advice is to give good information: pictures, videos, whatever it takes. Once you have the advice, follow it. They will almost certainly tell you to do less than you want, but it's not necessarily forever.

02-13-2011, 04:04 PM
James, I trained until I was 7 months pregnant, and then came back after a caesarean - obviously different to broken bones but both my sensei my obstretrician were great. We discussed what I could do and what we were all comfortable with. Particularly when heavily pregnant, my sensei often put me in a group of three where I only took the "shite/nage" role and I did not take ukemi. Kihon dosa and many aspects of weapons training were also fine.

I agree with the other who've posted as well. There was an interesting article recently in the Melbourne papers about a circus trapeze practitioner who got badly injured and who spent her rehab time watching and found she had not really lost anything despite not being able to train for quite a long time (a year?). So I think Janet's experience and suggested approach is great.

02-13-2011, 09:04 PM
Injuries in your youth will affect your quality of life as you get older. these injuries can cause decreased flexibility and mobility accompanied by discomfort, aches and pain. This all can be managed in your later years with good health care, physical therapy and medication but it would be better not to have those be a part of your life.

I would suggest to listen to your doctor(s) advice, let it heal completely then wait another six months to a year just to be sure.

It is always better to be too cautious then not cautious enough.


02-13-2011, 10:04 PM
I say take as much time off as you need. I am currently taking a mini break from class due to an injury. I understand your frustration, as I am experiencing it as well. You don't want to injure yourself and have to be off the mat even longer then you already are.

Like the others said, watching is helpful. It can be frustrating, but you also see so much more then you do when you are actually training on the mat.

Best of luck to you and I hope you have a speedy recovery.