The UAE’s national jiu-jitsu team’s physiotherapist, Hiten Maisuria, knows all about getting athletes ready for competition, injury-free. Maisuria, 32, who previously worked with the English soccer team, Queens Park Rangers, as an academy physiotherapist, took on his role with the UAE jiu-jitsu team’s technical staff in May.
“Yes, we are excited to get back on the mats and the mood within the community is one of excitement and encouragement,” he says. “However, it is important to remember that most fighters will be coming back after a long break, having not built up the requisite volume of heavy sparring, and thus will have to be more careful about taking care of their bodies and avoiding injuries.”
Maisuria has come out with a set of tips that work whether you are a fighter getting back on the mat or one of the rest of us aiming to get back to the gym.
Warm up well and in the right way
A good warm-up is essential, as is taking time to work on and stretch every major muscle group.
“A lot of injuries in jiu-jitsu are often because the fighters don’t really warm-up in the right way,” says Maisuria. “Rushing through a warm-up can have serious consequences. A good warm-up can be one that gets all your main muscle-groups moving, mobilizes your joints and incorporates dynamic stretching exercises.”
Precaution is better than cure
Just like the rest of us, fighters often ignore and fail to report minor niggles or knocks sustained during training to the medical staff.
“It is important that fighters speak about these minor injuries to the medical staff in order for them to be monitored in the right manner,” says Maisuria. “Too often, we have seen niggles and minor injuries turning into serious issues that require advanced care and long periods of rehabilitation because they weren’t flagged when they happened.”
Don’t scrimp on sleep
Getting enough rest and following the right recovery protocols are an underrated, but critical, aspect to an athlete’s success.
“The demands placed on your body in a sport like jiu-jitsu, and as you progress through the belts, is immense,” says Maisuria. “Sleep is a very important ingredient in any athlete’s success and getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night is essential.”
Maisuria says that coaches have to be responsible when planning training loads, ensuring that athletes are getting enough rest between sessions, and actively endorsing the benefits of recovery and rest protocols to make athletes aware of their importance.
According Maisuria, it is crucial for fighters to understand their bodies, to listen to them, and to have a strength and conditioning program that hits all the right areas and prepares a fighter’s body to be in prime condition on the mat.
A mix of aerobic and anaerobic training is recommended, which target improvements in endurance as well as strength.
“It is key for maintaining intensity throughout the bout and for quickening recovery between them,” he says. “Grip strength and muscle endurance are areas that are often overlooked. But if you look at what a fighter has to do on the mat, these two aspects are vital. Building up grip strength and gradually improving muscle endurance will help fighters be at their best for longer periods on the mat.”