Case study: physiotherapy for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

We like to celebrate our patients’ successes at Victory; and this week we have a story from senior physio Lauren Taylor, whose patient Maria has given us permission to celebrate hers.

Maria is a lovely lady who recently started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). She absolutely loves it, is training three times a week with the club, as well as doing her own core work and stretching at home. She is highly motivated and even manages to keep up a good training regime whilst away on holiday! Unfortunately, while she was away, Maria tweaked her neck doing some body rolls. She tried to treat herself using heat packs; but when they only gave her temporary relief, her friend suggested that she come and see us at Victory.

The first moment I saw Maria, it was obvious that she was really uncomfortable. She was really restricted and painful when she tried to look over her right shoulder, and she described the movement as feeling ‘blocked.’ She was also having difficulty sleeping, frequently waking up with a stiff neck.

Now, most physios at this point would just have treated her neck, and maybe given her some exercises to help her improve her posture, on the assumption that this was the root of her issues.  

For some patients, that would be totally appropriate treatment; but at Victory, we don’t make assumptions, we test – so I set out to test Maria’s body to see where her restricted neck movement was coming from. And surpisingly, when I did the detective work, I actually found that it was when I corrected the position of her left foot, that she was able to turn her head more freely and without pain!

So that was where we started, and after a few minutes of mobilising her foot, her neck pain was almost better! 

As an aside, this is actually one of the things that makes Victory different.  Lots of our patients have been to see multiple doctors and therapists before they come to us without getting a full recovery; and when we talk to them, we often find that the practitioners have got too caught up with the painful area, and have lost sight of the bigger picture of how the whole body is functioning. Bodies are complex structures, and everything is connected through the hard bony skeletal structure as well as the soft tissue network. This means that a problem in one area can have very significant effects on an entirely different area in the body. 

At Victory, our unique Health & Performance Pyramid gives us a really comprehensive way to assess and treat our patients – to analyse how well aligned they are and how well they move. We also address the other fundamental factors that affect how well our minds and bodies can cope with injury. These include how much sleep our patients are getting, their nutrition quality and hydration levels, and what their stress levels are like. If any one of these foundational building blocks is not in order, then our bodies will not be working optimally, and we will be far more susceptible to injury.

However, back to Maria! 

Once we had got the foot to move as it was supposed to, we needed to make sure that the rest of her body was joining in, and that the whole “kinetic chain” between her foot and her neck was working as it should.  So – working up her body, and using the RSM Model (which you can read about next week!), we addressed the tightness in her hip, looked at her posture and taught her how to counter her ‘computer posture.’ 

When Maria was able to maintain a good posture in relatively static positions, we worked on helping her how to become more aware of how her body likes to move – for better or for worse – something which is invaluable both in everyday situations, and especially whilst playing sport! 

As an athlete, Maria was really quick to soak up all the information I gave her and was dedicated to her home exercise programme.  So her body learned how to become more resilient and how to move more efficiently – and as a result, she is now really excelling in BJJ. But she’s also able to look after herself much better, because she now has much more awareness of where her problem areas are, and knows what she needs to incorporate into her maintenance regime to keep on top of them. Well done Maria!

Well done Maria – and well done Lauren too!  If you’ve got a niggling injury that isn’t getting better with traditional physiotherapy, or you have a suspicion that the underlying cause of your pain isn’t the bit that hurts – why not give us a call on 0207 175 0150, and see if we can help you work out what’s really going on?