Are You Experiencing Jiu Jitsu Fingers?


What are Jiu Jitsu fingers (aka JJ Fingies) ? Well if you have to ask then you probably are not experiencing or have not had any hand issues when training. If you feel like you have been searching for a name for pain and soreness in your hands related to your Jiu Jitsu practice, well today is your lucky day. Since I’m only a lowly white belt, I can’t offer much insight into practicing BJJ as I can on surviving from it.

I’m not sure if this issue affects more female BJJ practitioners because of less defined forearm muscles and /or a lack of grip related workouts, but the issue remains that I’ve heard more than one person complain of finger and wrist pain associated with their training. While I’m no doctor , I can give you some tips on dealing with your pain in private so we don’t have to listen to your complaining at the gym. And I say that with as much compassion as Ehab Mohsen would but with a little more attitude .

We obviously know that over use of our grips during drilling or rolling is the main culprit of this pain. We all want to keep hold of lapels, knees and elbows when executing moves, but in truth when you start out in BJJ you may over do it, holding on longer than you should because of lack of moves in your arsenal or lack of energy using holding as a stall tactic. Either situation is not ideal, but it happens.

So what should you do when your fingers hurt too bad to close, or hold a cup of coffee? Rest your hands! Some of you may say. “NO! I can’t stop training I’m just starting to understand what’s going on.” Well the good news is that I never said to stop training, I said to rest your hands. The best way to do this is to start going to Mitch’s No Gi class at 530PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While you learn new techniques to bi-pass any strenuous gripping ( because there are no gi’s involved) you help your hands. I did this when my hands just could not handle anymore gripping without serious pain, and it worked in addition to stretching and diet which I’ll discuss in a bit. If you are one of those people who are shaking your head at me because you can’t make it to the No Gi class for reasons such as “ I can’t get out of work that early” or “I can’t make it on those days,” then there is more good news. Ian also has a wrestling class on Monday and Wednesday at 730PM, so no matter what your lame excuse is, there are options for you to stop using your grips and still keep training, which is good for everyone!

Now let’s say you’re going to these No Gi and Wrestling classes but you are still experiencing pain and soreness. What should you do now? While some swear by medication and 500mg of IBU, I also recommend stretching and hand exercises in addition to altering your diet and Epson salt baths for your hands. Why IBU, Epson salt baths and change in diet you ask? Well most injuries result in inflammation of muscles and tendons which cause weakening and degeneration. IBU helps with pain and reducing some inflammation, as will the Epson salt bath for your hands. Changing your diet a bit will also help with this process as there are some foods that will help reduce inflammation and others that are linked to causing it, which you want to avoid.

“Pro-inflammatory foods will increase inflammation, increase your pain from the inflammation, and may also raise your risk for chronic disease. Loading up on junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar and fast foods will increase inflammation in your body. This is partially due to the unhealthy fats used in preparing and processing these foods, especially trans fats and saturated fats. Processed meats, such as lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages, contain chemicals such as nitrites that are associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease.
Saturated fats are also found in meats, dairy products and eggs. While all of these foods are important source of minerals and vitamins, you don’t need the extra saturated fat. These foods also contain fatty acids called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much arachidonic acid in the diet may make your inflammation worse. Be sure to choose low-fat milk and cheese and lean cuts of meat, which will not promote inflammation.
Diets high in sugar have also been associated with inflammation, obesity and chronic disease such as diabetes. Eliminate high-sugar foods such as sodas, soft drinks, pastries, pre-sweetened cereals and candy.
Another possible source of irritation comes from the nightshade family of plants. Whole fruits and vegetables are important to eat for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants. However, some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may actually make pain from inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine. Solanine can trigger pain in some people. While there isn’t any formal research findings that back the claim about nightshade plants, some people do believe they get relief from the symptoms of pain and inflammation.” —

A more anti-inflammatory diet could help save you from prolonged pain and suffering, which in turn could help you to improve your BJJ game faster because you reduce your injury time.

Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips
Overall, when you are choosing anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce your inflammation and pain, choose fresh foods instead of heavily processed foods. Here are some tips:
•Breakfast could be oatmeal served with fresh berries and walnuts, with a cup of soy milk.
•Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables throughout the day instead of cookies and candy.
•Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
•Stay away from deep-fried foods, and bake or stir fry your meals instead.
•Choose green, orange, and yellow vegetables for your side dishes.
•Drink plenty of water, fresh 100% fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas and green tea.”

Now you’ve changed how you train, your diet and taking additional steps to recover but still are experiencing pain. What do you do now? Stretch and Strengthen the muscles and tendons associated with gripping so that when you do return to regular gi classes you will be able to continue training without having to take a break.

What stretches and exercises should you do? Because if you look at any BJJ practitioner’s hands who has been in the game for a long time, you’ll notice that their hands resemble those of people with arthritis. The soreness and weakness is pretty similar and can also affect your wrists like people with carpal tunnel syndrome. So again I’m no doctor but doing exercises for these types of problems has helped me in the past.