Jiu-jitsu series P2: common injuries

Injuries happen in every sport. some can be avoided, whereas others probably can't. This article covers some common Jiu-Jitsu injuries and offers some useful advice.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling martial art that focuses on submission techniques and leverages. While BJJ is a relatively safe sport, injuries can occur, particularly due to submissions. The most common injuries in BJJ due to submissions include joint sprains and strains, muscle strains, and bone fractures.


We’ve covered some of these areas in more detail below, providing some examples of situations in a match or training that could lead to problems. 


 To provide some context, here’s a video that explains some of the positions that we discuss later in the article. Enjoy!



Joint sprains

One of the most common injuries types in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are joint sprains, particularly in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. This is due to the many joint locks and submission techniques used in the sport. Joint locks involve applying pressure to a joint in order to force an opponent to submit or tap out.

Examples of these:

·         Kimura/Americana submission – Forcing the opponent’s shoulder behind their back or outwards into internal and external rotation respectively

·         Arm Bar Submission – Forcing the opponents elbow into hyperextension as well as their shoulder into deep extension


·         Ankle Lock – foot hyperextension and knee torsion 

mechanism of injury

The anatomy of a joint sprain or strain involves the ligaments that connect the bones of the joint. Ligaments are tough, fibrous bands that provide stability and support to the joint. When a joint is forcefully twisted or hyperextended, the ligaments can become stretched or torn, resulting in pain, swelling, and loss of mobility.

man in black shirt lying on floor

Muscle strains

Muscle strains are another common injury in BJJ. These often occur in the back and neck due to the various grappling techniques and positions that put stress on the muscles in these areas as well as muscles involved in the above submissions. Muscle strains involve the tearing of muscle fibres which result in injury. 

grayscale photo of men playing basketball


Bone fractures can be less common in BJJ but can occur due to excessive force or pressure. The most common bones to fracture in BJJ are the ribs and fingers. A rib fracture can occur due to pressure applied to the chest during a submission hold, while a finger fracture can occur during a grip-breaking technique or while executing a submission hold.

shallow focus photo of two man playing taekwondo


No sport comes without any injury risk. However, the injury rate for Jiu-Jitsu on the whole isn’t that high. As with any sport, many injuries occur due to training errors. You can reduce this risk by progressing slowly, choosing the right training environment for your goals and experience level, and conditioning your body to be as robust as possible in your time away from the mat. 

If you need some help building a Strength and Conditioning plan for Jiu-Jitsu, speak to a member of the Summit Team and see if we can help! We work with clients with a wide variety of backgrounds and goals, from those who just want to improve health, to elite athletes. Our aim is to help you become the best-possible version of yourself!

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