Can you do BJJ with a knee replacement? Yes, you can do BJJ with a knee replacement, but the risks are significantly higher than without a knee replacement. Knees are some of the most challenging areas to recover from when you get injured or undergo surgery. That’s why athletes dread having any knee injury, as it would halter their career.
For others, weak knees are a thing they are used to, and they do not practice sports because they feel like it has too much impact on the joints. This is not necessarily the wrong approach, but it is not the best approach for all activities.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the options that you can safely pick to train if your knees are not at 100% or if you have had a knee replacement and are looking for an activity you can do. With several precautions, of course.
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The Anatomy Of A Knee Replacement
A knee replacement could be partial or a total. The surgery consists of replacing the knee’s weight-bearing surfaces, which could be diseased or damaged, with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.
The knee replacement surgery involves exposing the front of the knee and detaching part of the quadriceps muscle from the patella.
The patella is displaced to the side, exposing the distal and proximal ends of the femur and tibia, respectively.
The ends of those two bones are cut accurately to shape using cutting guides.
Both cartilage and anterior cruciate ligament are removed; the posterior cruciate ligament may also be removed, but tibial and fibular collateral ligaments are preserved.
After that, metal and plastic components are then impacted onto the bone or fixed using PMMA cement.
Finally, the stability and range of the knee’s motion are checked. This is followed by irrigation, hemostasis, placement of removals, and closure.
After the surgery is done, the recovery period takes about 12 weeks (or longer). After that, is when you can start engaging in some activity.
You need to take care once you start doing physical activities again, as your knee replacement will not be too keen on receiving too much stress from impact, so let’s focus on how to work in BJJ.
The Problems With Doing BJJ With A Knee Replacement
There is not much to worry about in the practice of BJJ if you have a knee replacement, but there are small details you might want to look into.
We are just going to call them “Problems” for now, but they at most could present themselves as “Minor inconveniences.”
Explosive takedowns causing issues
When it comes to the legs, most injuries occur during uncontrolled, explosive movements, especially during stand-up exchanges.
Thankfully, these are details that you can adjust to, as you could switch your style to different takedowns that do not put your knees in jeopardy.
It is not an issue and shouldn’t bother anyone who isn’t wrestling-focused in their BJJ.
The dread of the Leg Lock game
In recent years, the leg lock system has evolved rapidly, seeing a ton of success in the no-gi grappling and taking the world by storm.
This could be a nightmare for people who have leg injuries, as it increases the opportunity for knee reaps and kneebars that could cause extra damage to the joint.
There, however, have been a lot of limitations to the leg lock game according to who regulates competition.
For example, it will be less likely to see Leg locks in the IBJJF tournaments. Furthermore, most techniques are prohibited to low-rank belts, and moves like heel hooks and knee reaps have recently been allowed to brown and black belts in no-gi on the adult division exclusively.
Thankfully, most of these issues only present minor inconveniences to casual and non-competitive practitioners. It is not like you can’t handle things at your own pace in training, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
We will now take a moment to give out some recommendations for anyone who trains after knee surgery.
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How To Train BJJ With A Knee Replacement – BJJ With Bad Knees
The best way to train when you have a knee replacement, and in general, to be honest, is to take things at your own pace.
If you feel like you might get hurt or need to adjust techniques to suit better what your body is capable of, you should take the time to do so.
If you are slightly nervous about getting leg locked when you roll, take the time to learn leg locks at your pace, and figure out what your legs can handle and how to break down the leg attacks before they land in the first place.
If wrestling throws are causing a lot of stress on your knee, slow down and focus on improving the technique one detail at a time to cause less stress and require less explosiveness, so your legs won’t feel the tear and wear.
You can also work on other activities to keep yourself active and improve your health and resistance without causing damage to your legs, and have positive benefits, both in and outside of BJJ.
What Are Other Activities Suitable For Someone With A Knee Replacement?
There are multiple other options that you can pick to have an active life, and these can even indirectly help you improve on your BJJ as you practice them.
These activities have little impact to cause minor damage to your knee and for you to better adapt to them.
These activities include:
- Low-resistance weightlifting
Our recommendation is swimming and calisthenics, as they develop muscles in your whole body.
Swimming For BJJ
Swimming works on your cardiovascular health, breathing, and resistance, while also offering no impact to your knee joints as you are in the water.
It is an excellent option for you to pick up at any point in your life, and you can do it early to feel light during the day or at night to relax the body after your routine.
It is also fantastic to swim at night to get ready for a good night’s sleep.
Calisthenics For BJJ
Calisthenics intends to increase fitness, strength, and flexibility, using one’s body weight for resistance.
It utilizes movements such as pulling, pushing, bending, jumping, or swinging.
Calisthenics improves psychomotor skills such as balance, agility, and coordination while also providing muscular and aerobic conditioning benefits.
Combining these with BJJ will allow for an excellent fitness regiment and give you an edge as you improve your skillset.
Walking is one of the other options you have at your disposal to keep yourself active and not have too much impact on your joints.
Walking is preferred over similar activities like jogging and running because the slower pace will not lift you from the surface, and there will be no landing impact on your knee, as happens during jogging and running.
The other option you could always take if you like a little adventure is Hiking, as it will be just as effective as walking, but it will take you outdoors to explore new and different areas from what you are used to.
It is fun and should not cause much stress to your knees while relaxing your mind from a stressful day and keeping you sharp.
Weightlifting should be a pleasant activity to acquire extra strength that you can quickly transfer to your grappling. But it would be best if you used low weight for some exercises.
You would not want to put too much pressure on yourself by trying to free-weight squat a little too heavy. This could damage your joints.
BJJ With A Knee Replacement Final Thoughts
Surgery and its recovery can always be terrifying for anyone who practices sports.
You start to wonder if it will slow or halter your progress or if you will be able to continue practicing anything at all, but it is not that bad.
You must not let any of these limitations stop you from doing anything that you love, and you just need to take the time to learn to do these things correctly, not to cause any damage.
Jiu-Jitsu is a noble discipline, getting labeled as “Arte Suave,” so you do not have to be too worried about practicing it after you recover; all you need to do is stay calm and adapt yourself to what your body allows you to do.
I hope this article has helped you better understand how a knee replacement could change your BJJ training, but more than anything, we hope to see you on the mats, ready to keep going forward.
If you find this article helpful, I encourage you to share it with those you believe will benefit from the read, and thanks again for taking the time to inform yourself.