Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and How Medical Athletic Tape Can Help

Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and How Medical Athletic Tape Can Help

Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and How Medical Athletic Tape Can Help 



Let's set the scene. You've slung your gym bag over your shoulder and are ready to drive home after an intense Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training session. Today´s sparring was intense, and you were prepared to meet your opponents with agility and strong grips. You're sweating, your muscles are aching, and everything is as it should be. Except, your joints don't feel quite right. Time to take this opportunity to talks about some of the most common injuries in BJJ and how athletic tape can help protect your precious digits.


Best Approach to Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)

A 2019 study in Sports Health has found that 91% of athletes in the study were injured while training for BJJ, and 60% of competitive athletes were injured during actual competitions. This is in line with most competitive sports injuries. As a grappling based sport, fingers, neck, knees, shoulders and elbows are most affected by injuries. A common reason for this difference in becoming injured is that even competitors spend most of their time in the academy to prepare for an upcoming tournament. Thus, by the sheer amount of time training, the risk of injury goes up. 

It can be tempting to suck it up and continue to train through an injury, especially when competition is in sight. As an athlete, it's wise to learn to work through the discomfort of the sport, but not through pain. Minor injuries can turn into injuries that require surgery and significant time off from BJJ, not to mention off from anything else you enjoy in your life. Rest early to prevent catastrophic injuries. 

If you're worried about the sport you've chosen, a 2014 study is here to put your mind at ease. BJJ competitors are injured less than other martial art competitors such as judo, taekwondo, wrestling and mixed martial arts. Knowledge is power, and proper education about avoiding injury is always wise. 


Strains and Sprains and possible causes in BJJ

The 2014 study into BJJ sustained injuries discovered orthopaedic injuries such as strains and sprains were most common, with athlete hands and fingers being the most commonly affected body part. One of the most frustrating parts of becoming injured is that most injuries do not happen during catastrophically cool attacks. They usually occur during a moment of carelessness and flukes. For example, getting stuck in the fabric of your opponent's Gi. It's also quite common to go crashing into the mat or your opponent at an inopportune angle. Ouch! 


First Aid After Minor Strains and Sprains

Are you noticing pain and swelling post BJJ training? You've probably injured yourself. A sprain usually occurs via trauma to the joint, whereas strain happens via overstretching or overusing your muscles and tendons. Please note: this is first aid. If you believe you may have injured yourself more seriously, visit your doctor. Thankfully, you do not need to identify whether it's a strain or sprain because the primary treatment is the same. It's time for RICE. 

  • Rest: Avoid using your affected fingers for 24 to 48 hours. It may help to splint it using tape during the night. We use our fingers all the time, and the pain associated with a sprain will remind you to limit use. Your body is clever like that!
  • Ice: Cool the area using an ice pack wrapped in a protective cloth. A pack of frozen peas will work well if you have no professional setup on hand. Do not ice for more than 15 minutes at a time and take a 20-minute break in between icing sessions. You can repeat this hourly to take down swelling and pain. 
  • Compression: Gently (!) wrap your affected finger using elastic medical tape. You want to reduce inflammation, not create a tourniquet. 
  • Elevation: You'll reduce inflammation by keeping your finger above heart level. Make use of pillows and slings. 

Ready to return to training? Consider buddy tapping the previously injured finger to a neighbouring one to aid your safe return to BJJ. Place padding between your fingers, wrap tape once or twice around the base, and further towards the tip. Make sure you still have good circulation. When you press the end of each finger, the colour should return to normal within a couple of seconds. 


Preventing Injuries by taped up hands

BJJ training puts a lot of pressure on your fingers. Thankfully, you can reduce the risk of injury to your joints and ligaments by giving them extra support via athletic tape for your hands. Taping your own finger joints is relatively easy to do for yourself. Whether you choose to x-tape your fingers, use the buddy system or another restrictive tape for hands, is up to you. This requires extensive experimentation, and there will be an additional blog post on sports tape methods in the future. 


Tape Lab Athletic Tape

At Tape Lab, we have developed an athletic medical tape aimed at combat sports and all other physical activities via our passion for BJJ. Effective taping can help prevent injuries and get you back on the mat as quickly as possible. Whether you need medical tape for your fingers, wrists, toes, feet and other joints, we have an impressive offering to protect and support yourself against injury. Don't waste time cutting down the tape to suit your needs. We have tape for small and big joints alike. Tape Lab is looking forward to supporting you, and your joints, in your training goals. 


Stay safe,




Studies Cited:

McDonald AR, Murdock FA Jr, McDonald JA, Wolf CJ. Prevalence of Injuries during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training. Sports (Basel). 2017;5(2):39. Published 2017 Jun 12. doi:10.3390/sports5020039

Petrisor BA, Del Fabbro G, Madden K, Khan M, Joslin J, Bhandari M. Injury in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training. Sports Health. 2019;11(5):432-439. doi:10.1177/1941738119849112

Scoggin JF 3rd, Brusovanik G, Izuka BH, Zandee van Rilland E, Geling O, Tokumura S. Assessment of Injuries During Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition. Orthop J Sports Med. 2014;2(2):2325967114522184. Published 2014 Feb 21. doi:10.1177/2325967114522184

Back to blog

1 comment

Thanks for helpful insights! I recently bought tape from a brand (Hampton Adams) I trust, and this article has given me some fantastic tips on how to use it effectively in my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice. It’s reassuring to know there are ways to prevent and manage injuries. Keep up the great work!

Brain Bulger

Leave a comment