Friday, October 8, 2010

It Is What It Is

Well, despite my best efforts--ice, chiropractor, rolling light, ibuprofen--my neck isn't getting any better. It's getting worse. I'm starting to have muscle spasm along my neck and right shoulder at night. Tonight, I rolled very light, avoiding moves that could make it worse, but even so, it's sore and tight again now.

My insurance denied my doctors request for me to get an MRI, so I am still not sure exactly what the problem is. So for now, I am treating it as just a bad strain. And since rolling light is not working, I guess that means I have to take some time off. At least a week, maybe more.

Even so, I'm ok with that. Don't get me wrong. Not training grates at me. But I am seeing two positives that may come out of all this.

1. My taking a week off won't affect the tournament in a bad way. I was to "train hard" and "get ready". But the truth is, not much is going to change about my grappling in the next few weeks. The cardio is good, but I'm not going to suddenly develop secret ninja moves if I force myself to train through the end of the month. Plus, taking a week or more off might actually improve my chances of doing well at the tournament. My body will be rested, and hopefully healed up a little.

2. I get to watch everyone else grapple. As much as it sucks not to be in the action, I get almost as much enjoyment out of watching my teammates grapple as I do grappling myself. I learn so much just observing.

The past few week has been a big learning experience for me. Having a neck problem has forced me to expand my horizons. As my neck got worse, going inverted and doing a whole bunch of rolly escapes became less and less of an option. I did it anyway for a while, despite the pain, until Fabio forbade me to do it. He told me if I went inverted, I would automatically lose the match. ;)

At first, doing other things made me feel like a newbie all over again. My body wanted to do what I normally do and I had to force myself to look for other ways to accomplish what I wanted.

I started working a lot more sweeps, especially the kind where your sort of bore under the person to get their weight on top of you. They keep trying to attack me, but I can slowly and steadily get under them while still protecting my neck. Because I didn't want to strain my neck, I worked hard to get the right leverage and to use my hips and legs to do most of the work, using my upper body more as a frame and my arms to take away their supports.

Maybe it's because I wasn't looking for them before, but all of the sudden, I am noticing sweeps everywhere. And the coolest part about it is they work on the big, strong guys I grapple too! Woohoo!!

The other thing I've been doing a lot of that I don't normally do is take the person's back. A lot of times, when I am going for a sweep, the person will drop their hips to try to stop themselves from going over. If I am ready for that, then I can use that moment when they drop themselves down to cup up and over.

And, of course, I've been trying to be on top as much as possible. It's not even a I-want-to-be-a-top-player thing anymore. It's a neck-preservation thing now. And the great thing is, I am starting to feel more comfortable passing guard and being on top. I'm noticing more submissions from mount and side control. Still not as many as I notice in guard. But all of that will come in time, I am sure.

I just hope a week/week and a half will be enough to get my neck into good enough condition for me to compete. This tournament isn't massively important, but I had JUST gotten myself to the point where I was ready to re-face my fears and get back into competition. I don't want to back down now. Plus, the whole team is going.

We'll see what happens.


Dev said...

Just a thought. And realize this is coming from a guy who would do EXACTLY what you're doing... and has done it.

You competing in this tournament is not going to make it or break it. Furthermore, you competing in this tournament will not ensure victory or defeat for your team.

You don't owe your teammates your safety or your livelihood. You owe that to your family. If your neck is still hurt, how much sense does it really make to be competing? What happens when that girl stacks you up and then you REALLY have to get that MRI? How useful are you to your family then?

Your team will benefit more from you 1) practicing with them longer, 2) cheering and coaching from the sidelines, 3) supporting whoever is there fighting WHILE YOU RECOVER than they will from you being an idiot and maintaining an injury of which you're not entirely sure of the seriousness, even now.

From a guy who's had neck problems - and surgery - do yourself a favor and take it easy. You can fight through muscle strains and pulls and tweaked joints, but your neck is one place you don't want to mess with.

Just saying. Only you know if it's reasonable to roll on it. But if there's any doubt, try to think in longer terms than a tournament 2 weeks from now. There will always be more tournaments.

Anonymous said...

I've had a neck issue as well. Your symptoms sound EXACTLY like a slipped disc in your neck that is pressing against the nerve. It is very typical in bjj - as evidenced by Dev as well as myself. It would be even more likely if you play a lot of inverted guard...which you do. Ask your doctor about getting approved for a CT scan (a hyped up x-ray which is sometimes capable of revealing a disc protrusion and might be the evidence you need to get an MRI) or at least a referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon who might be able to make the case for the need for an MRI.

I don't wish this upon you, but it might be safer to assume that this is what the issue is. Also, Dev's advice on the tournament is right on. I had to do the same exact thing and the world kept turning despite me not competing in the tournament.

Good luck girl!

Liam H Wandi said...

Terribly sorry to hear about your neck Allie. I hope you will be better than before soon. Best wishes.

Liam H Wandi said...

Terribly sorry to hear about your neck Allie. I hope you will be better than before soon. Best wishes.