The Most common Jiu-Jitsu injuries


A sustained period off the mats is one of the biggest fears of every Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. While it is often refereed to as the gentle art, the fact remains that there are many ways to get injured in Jiu-Jitsu. Training smart can help to avoid injury but even at this, there are many injuries that are simply unavoidable. It is just part of the game!

In this post we have listed some of the most common injuries that you can expect to come across on your BJJ journey.

Elbow Joint

The armbar may be the first submission you learn. It is done by hyper extending the arm. If you are caught in one and do not submit quickly, you run the risk of damaging the ligaments and tendons in the arm and even risk breaking it.

Apart form this posting on the mat is probably the most common way of injury the elbow. When we suddenly post on the mat the force of our body can cause the arm to hyper extended which in turn  can damage the ligaments in the elbow.

Sprained Wrist

Similar to above, sprained wrists are incurred when an athletes posts their arm out to break a fall or stabilise their position. This can cause the wrist to bend suddenly and damage the ligaments.

Wrist locks and attacks can also result in sprains and tears.

Rotator cuff and Shoulder

Once again, posting on the mat is one of the most common ways of sustaining this injury. The rortator cuff can be slow to heal and often requires a period of rest.

There are also many shoulder lock submissions in Jiu-Jitsu such as the Kimura which can result in shoulder injuries if held too long.

Mir Kimura

Frank Mirs nasty Kimura on Nogueira

Mat Burn

Many people will not consider it an injury but there is no doubt that a serious case of Mat Burn can keep you off the mats for a while. Mat Burn is an injury which occurs when the outer layers of your skin are removed as a result of heavy rubbing when contact is made with the mat.

It can be sore to touch and can take a number of days to heal. See our article with tips to treat mat burn.

Wearing wrestling boots is one good way of avoiding this injury.

Cauliflower ear

Cauliflower ear is the result of trauma to the cartilage of the ear resulting in a haematoma. Repeated haematomas and damage cause the ear to harden and appear swelled. Cauliflower ears can be sore and are often at higher risk of infection.


There is a stigma around leg locks for good reason. If an opponent attacks your legs and you do not know how to defend or do not sumit you run the risk of damaging ligaments. Ligament injuries can result in lenghtly period off the mat and can often require surgery.

Most ACL and MCL injuries are the result of wrestling, explosive scrambling, and scissor takedowns. However innocuous movements that occur in all types of sparring and competition can also cause these injuries. These injuries are caused by suddenly hyperextending your knee. This can often recur as a result of a sudden change in direction or a quick stop.

Neck Pain

Being stacked on your neck and having your head pushed, pulled and bent by competitors can quickly result in all kinds of neck injuries. The neck really does take a beating in Jiu-Jitsu. The most common injury experienced is a cervical sprain or strain. The cervical spine is the most mobile segment of the spine but is at a higher risk of injury.

Top Tips to avoid injury

  1. Stretch before and after a session
  2. Always warm up
  3. Know your limit
  4. Tap early and often
  5. Take time to recover
  6. Wear protective gear if necessary. (Check out MMA Gear Addict for advice on the best gear)