Last week I dislocated my shoulder. It happened the way it always does, at the end of practice doing one last round. I was tired and went in for a sloppy shot, opponent drops to a lazy sprawl and falls on my arm in a weird way. Pop! It didn’t actually make a sound, but it sure did hurt.
It’s easy to blame your training partners, opponents, coaches, etc., but every time you step out on to the mat, ring, gym you accept the risk that you are going to end up in the emergency room. You’re the one dumb enough to take part in combat sports. Of course, you are always trying to minimize the risk. You warm up properly, put submissions on slowing, never crank a submission to a training partner who won’t tap (if it’s in the cage, break it!), and always tap when you should.
As much as you minimize the risk someone will get hurt. It’s a risk you either accept or get out of the game. It’s a big risk. You might have to drop out of an upcoming fight. You might have to get reconstructive surgery, spend months in physiotherapy, and more months getting back to where you started.
Most fighters don’t have much money and physiotherapy is expensive. When I tore my ACL, I didn’t have any extended insurance. I have a few good friends who were willing to help me out, but they have to make a living as much as anyone else and can’t do that handing out freebies to every sob story. Without proper recovery an injury might not ever heal.
Not being able to fight or train is bad enough, but showing up to your job in a leg splint can cause even more problems. We have a few aspiring and current firefighters/paramedics who train with us at Hayabusa and an injury can cost them their job. Most of them stop serious training or taking fights when they first get hired on.
There’s a lot you can do to speed up recovery. In all my strength and conditioning sessions I work on joint stability, either as a warm up or as part of the workout. After an injury, being diligent with all your exercises, ice lots, rest lots. That doesn’t mean stop training. With the U of A wrestling team, you are expected to show up to every practice, injured or not. There’s always something you can do, even if it riding a stationary bike or doing the exercises your physio prescribed.
I’ve known a few athletes try to push through their injuries, with mixed results. At best they lengthen their recovery, but run a risk of much more damage. Going into competition days or weeks after surgery might mean repeating it. It might mean it can never be repaired again and walking with a limp, cane, or pain for the rest of their lives.
As for when I will get back, hopefully soon. I’m putting in the work I need to get it better and training where I can. I was planning to fight in September, but I might have to push that back a month or two. At least this time, I can get the best treatment I need and take the time to fully recover.