James’ Injury Blog

Also known as:

“Arrrghhhh followed by many expletives!! My experience of recovering from an ACL injury”


As some of you may know, I regularly train and compete at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and have been for about 6 years. Having finished University where I played Ultimate Frisbee (and occasionally studied) I came back to Hereford and was looking for something to continue my new found passion for sport. I had no history of martial arts training but the idea had always appealed to me. By sheer coincidence a local club, The Combat Academy, was opening its doors to new members. It was a choice I have never regretted to this day. As anyone who regularly competes/participates in a sport they enjoy it can quite easily become a large part of your life. For me BJJ has given me a lot to work for and is highly rewarding. Whilst I have always been aware that injuries are a possibility I never really considered the consequences, until recently.

Back in September I was competing at one of the Hereford Opens, a highly respected interclub competition that draws people in from all over the UK. Even though BJJ is a combat sport almost everyone I meet is friendly and supportive. This was all too surreal when I was happily chatting to my opponent just before our final fight for gold only for this to happen:



Turns out that “pop” was my ACL, a pretty important part of my knee, being ruptured. At the time I knew things were bad, pain is good at telling you that, but my mind quickly shifted to what happens next. This was (and still is) my first ever big injury and I had not experienced anything like it before. I was happy to get my silver medal whilst still on the mat with the paramedics and thought that whilst things were bad a good few months of rehab and I’d be back to training again. My mind then jumped to whether or not I could go on my skiing holiday in January. How would I get home? How do I get to work? Can I work? All the questions come flooding in. Quite quickly it was very hard not to be pessimistic about the whole situation.

With that in mind I am very fortunate; if there was ever a great place to work at whilst dealing with an injury it is where I am. Both Ady and Luke Williams were more than happy to help me recover. After a few chats/examinations we worked out a process of recovery. There was little reason why I could not continue to train the upper body with the same intensity as before. With regards to the lower body it was all about laying a ground strong foundation of strength. Without intending to sound arrogant I was fairly strong to begin with which was most definitely an advantage. However it was a little humbling to be struggling with some exercises that used to be very easy. The early process was as follows:

  • Manage swelling / pain. Ice packs became my best friends!
  • Gently work on increasing range of motion
  • Regain the function of my hamstrings and glutes.
After I had got past the first two phases under the guidance of Ady and Luke my exercises mainly consisted of:
Foam Roll Quads Foam Roll ITB Foam Roll Calves
Glute Contractions Hip Extensions Glute Clams

You may notice this is very similar to a lot of warm-ups in our programs. This is because a lot of the time many of our clients have the same needs, a stronger posterior chain / strong bum! I cannot stress how important injury prevention is and whilst it is never the only goal for my training I have always been reassured by the fact that it underpins everything we do for both myself and our clients.

It has taken so far about 10 weeks to go from not being able to walk to being able to cycle to work and move about relatively freely.

I say this not to boast but to highlight that the little things that we can do after an injury make a difference to a speedy recovery. All to often we can get carried away and do too much too soon or feel too scared to do anything at all. A proactive approach to your rehabilitation can make all the difference!

I am pleased to say I have a great bunch of friends who helped me out (took the mick too), a boss who was more than happy to drive me to work (and take the mick too) and a club that has been very supportive. I intend to update this blog with my progress, thoughts and feelings. In some ways it is quite therapeutic but I also think that if it’s useful for anyone then I am happy to help.

As always with any exercise program please ensure you have a thorough assessment first. Of course, I know a great place you can get one done! 😉