Grappling/MMA with spinal/cervical problems

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by MMAKitty, May 12, 2014.

  1. MMAKitty White Belt

    May 11, 2014
    Likes Received:
    FRAT WARNING: Hello all, I'm new to the board but have browsed sites like these forever. In my browsing I've been inspired to make this thread because there are people who have spinal/cervical issues, and yet there's not a lot of info about it on the web that relates it to grappling/MMA.

    I have a fused spine from T5 to L3, so as you can imagine I have almost no flexibility in my spine. I am lucky however in that I am a naturally flexible person (getting me in a kimura is next to impossible!!), and I can luckily move around almost as if my spine is not fused.

    However, this is where the warning comes in, you DO have to listen to your body and find other ways to move. I seriously messed up my neck in jitsu a few years back from doing that drill where your ear is to the mat and you walk your legs above your body to do a roll. I pulled it off a few times, but on my next attempt I could feel my position was bad and I stupidly didn't readjust, and I heard a loud pop and felt the rip. I herniated my C5-C6 disk and tore the ligament on the right side of my neck. Now because my position was a bad and I'm a lady on the bigger side, my neck probably would've got hurt regardless, but it wouldn't have been that devastating if my spine wasn't fused because my neck was tryting to do what my spine can't.

    My breathing got shallow and I lost the use of my arms, and the doctors said I might never train again. Well, I rehabbed back to grappling within 5 months of the injury, REFUSED a cervical fusion, and am currently training to compete in stand up. I have been avoiding grappling lately to keep my neck strong for stand up, but will probably make a return to it on a very light level after I get the results of my most recent MRI.

    So to try and conclude this very long post, yes, you can grapple with a these kinds of problems, but ALWAYS check with a few doctors first and listen to your body!!! Learn to alternate moves. For example, instead of a front roll I do it over the shoulder, just play around and see what feels right. And also understand you will always be at greater risk for injury, so don't have an ego and tap when you have to or don't do a move you know you can't. Also accept that you may never be able to do it at a competitive level, but if you do, you might have to give up positions to stay safe. If I am getting stacked I won't fight it, let them take side or cross control, I'd rather be able to walk away :)

    Train safe everyone!!

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