By Sophia McDermott
At the beginning when we start training we all end up with bruises and this is normal. This is due to two reasons. The first one is that our body is not used to the constant impact and pressure. The second reason is because when we are beginners we tend to roll with beginners who are clumsy, awkward and are more likely to bump into you, fall on you and grip your skin underneath your gi (which is one of my pet peeves.) As we progress, so does the levels of our training partners so the bruising does become less.
Usually after the first few months the bruising does subside with the exception of a few shiners that are just bound to happen along the way.The human body is amazing and somehow adapts so that we can continue to do the same movements with the same pressure and impact without bruising like we did at the start. If the bruising continues at the same rate that it did at the start after you are well into your bjj journey, then this might be a sign that your body is not running optimally. Here are some reasons for easy bruising:
Not eating enough
An overall lack of calories is the main reason for constant bruising and luckily one that is easily treatable. Years ago I was training a lady who started BJJ. She ended up with the most horrific bruising I have ever seen. After a couple of weeks and no sign of the bruising subsiding I asked her how much she was eating and she told me that she was only eating once a day. Basically, since her body was starving it did not have the energy to heal itself and the unhealed bruises were just layering on top of each other until her entire leg was black.
In my experience as a trainer most women do not eat enough and consequently they have suppressed immune systems and don’t heal from bruises, cuts and injuries. Also the wear and tear of training takes its toll if the body doesn’t have the energy to repair and recover leaving the athlete constantly tired and lethargic.
The body needs at least 1200 calories a day just to carry out it’s basic biological functions. Through something as physical as BJJ on top of that and the body needs at least as additional 500 calories.
Even if you are getting enough calories, the type of calories are very important. Not healing from bruising can come about if you are deficient in certain macro and micro nutrients.
a) Lack of protein: If you are an athlete it is vital that you consume enough protein for performance, recovery and repair. It is very important that you consume protein sources that contain all the essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of life). There are a total of 20 amino acids but 9 of them must be ingested through diet since the body can’t make them. Animal based protein sources such as fish, poultry and eggs are known as complete proteins since they contain the essential amino acids that the body cannot make. Plant based sources of protein are known as incomplete proteins since they do not contain the essential amino acids which can make it hard for your body to rebuild, grow and repair.
If you are vegetarian then eggs are a great source of protein with high bioavailability and all the essential amino acids. If you are vegan and can’t eat any animal products then pea, hemp and brown rice protein powders contain all the essential amino acids.
b) Lack of Iron: Iron is a mineral that plays a vital roll in red blood cells which manufacture hemoglobin that carries the oxygen into the muscles. If your diet is low in iron then you may feel tired, lethargic and have poor recovery which includes recovering from bruises. Iron can be found in animal products such as liver, beef, chicken, oysters known as heme sources of iron and also in plant based sources known as non-heme sources of iron found in fortified cereals, beans and spinach. Your body can absorb iron derived from animal sources much more easily so if you are a vegetarian you should supplement with some iron.
c) Lack of Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for the formation of collagen, the building and repair of tissue. If you are low in vitamin C then healing from cuts and bruises could take longer. Vitamin C can be found in bell peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries and oranges. Try eating these fruits and vegetables before eating some steak, or chicken since the vitamin C will increase the absorption of the iron!
Take a look at your diet and double check that you are consuming enough calories first off and enough foods containing essential amino acids, iron and vitamin C so that you can rule out any more serious conditions. Making some small changes in your diet might give you more energy, increase your recovery and heal faster from bruises.
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