Dear Coach: Broke My Wrist in BJJ But Want to Train!

Sally broke her wrist in BJJ, but she still wants to train. Is there any way to keep training martial arts and conditioning with a broken wrist? Coach Andrew gives his opinion.

Dear Coach,

I been training BJJ for about four years and have recently begun training muay Thai and MMA. A couple of weeks ago I broke my scaphoid and I’m not sure how long I’ll be away from the MMA gym. In the meantime, I have a membership at a commercial gym and at home I have a heavy bag as well as a throwing/G&P dummy. What kind of strength and conditioning can I do to improve my cardio and maintain my strength while my wrist heals? I’ve been trying to develop a program but would appreciate any help!



Dear Sally,

Sorry to hear about your wrist. This is a bad news/ bad news kind of scenario. The wrist has a ton of tiny bones in it, of which the scaphoid is one. The problem with this is that the many joints within the wrist get terrible blood flow. Blood flow is the thing that helps to heal us quickly. There’s simply no way to speed up the process of a broken wrist other than waiting and letting it do its thing naturally.

I’ve seen many people try to rush back from wrist injuries and the result is that instead of taking time off and letting it heal they force the issue and are still plagued by it months, if not years, later. I understand the frustration caused by needing to take time off as I’ve been there many times myself, but trying to rush it now will only slow things down in the long run. Don’t get to fifty and still have a problem wrist from that one time you broke it twenty years ago!

So the first rule is – don’t train with pain. Without seeing you in person I can’t make any hard and fast rules about what exercises you could or should do. But I can tell you that you should stay away from all upper body work until it’s healed. No weights, no push ups, and absolutely no hitting the heavy bag or grappling. All it takes is one sloppy punch when fatigued or a careless training partner to yank on it and you’ll be back to where you started.

But go nuts on kicking and lower body striking and if you don’t already do road work, now is an excellent time to start. All the greatest fighters have had a steady diet of easy running in their regimes and there’s a reason why – it works and it’s easy on the body.

Take the time to let the body recover. If you’re not getting paid to fight and train there’s no reason to risk further long-term problems because of not taking time off now. We all get so worried about our training that we lose sight of the fact we do these things for health and training with pain is not a long-term plan for health.

Coach Andrew Read

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