Elisabeth Clay: The Importance of Body Maintenance

By Elisabeth Clay

The more hours of training my body goes through, the more body maintenance becomes a necessity. Body maintenance comes in many different forms; I have learned this the hard way. If I wait until I am in pain to take care of my body, it takes more work and strain to eliminate pain. It’s better to keep up with frequent body maintenance and not wait for pain to act as a reminder that I need to take care of my body.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to take care of my body while training:

Massages

Massages come in many forms. I like getting a Swedish massage before tournaments to relax my body and mind and get me ready to compete. However, what I spend most of my time getting is deep tissue massages. These can be painful during the process but they are great at reducing pain. My physician uses trigger point, rolfing, muscle striping, transverse friction massage, and I don’t even know what else. All I know is that when it is done my muscles have a greater range of motion, with fewer knots, aches, and pains. This keeps me going. Some weeks I have multiple sessions and some weeks I skip it. It is important not to build up scar tissue, so this is critical for me.

Adjustments

I love being adjusted. Weekly adjustments are just a part of my life. When you play as hard as we do in jits it becomes a necessity. Bones get knocked every which way during hard training. Lucky for me my mom is a chiropractor so if she is at the gym and things really get knocked out of place we can get them fixed immediately. Other times I must wait.

Physical Therapy

Oh, I have a love-hate relationship with this one. It is critical when I get hurt and some parts of this have become a regular part of my training and conditioning. It seems to take up so much time and yet is not physically challenging, which is why I hate doing it. The wobble board seems to be the one thing I despise the most, but I do it when necessary to keep my proprioception on point. It has helped me recover from the knee injury and prevent future injuries. TheraBand exercises have at times also been very important for knee and shoulder tweaks. We can add in here inversion therapy, great for having been smash passed or smash pass drilling. This was a great after my back injury several years ago.

Strength Training

My professor is huge on strength training, and I have fallen in love with many aspects of it. I lift weights about 3 days a week, focusing on deadlifts, squats, rows, and many pulling exercises (lots and lots of rows). I also use push toboggans and do pull ups and grip exercises. It has been cool to see the difference in how much control this has helped me have in the stand-up grip fighting. Also, squatting and deadlifts have helped with so many moves like having guard jumped or breaking guard, etc. I don’t have to worry as much about not having the strength to keep ahold of someone if they jump guard.

Conditioning

Swimming is great conditioning for my shoulders, back, and knees. I do a lot of core exercises for my back and abdominals to support everything else I require my body to do.

Modalities

Two of the most common modalities used on my body are microcurrent and ultrasound. Microcurrent is used with to facilitate faster healing and to repair injuries as well as intense soreness. Ultrasound has been the go to break up scar tissue from old injuries. By doing this my flexibility is coming back after injury. I can almost get my foot behind my head again.

Supplements

Supplements have also become a regular part of life. I take joint supplements, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, and ones to support immune function as I have no time to be sick. I would say the ones I have to make sure I’m always taking are collagen supplements for my joints, especially if I’m cutting weight.

Take Care of Your Body

Because I love what I do, I take the time and effort (try to but should probably do more recovery then I do) to do all this stuff so that my body will last to continue for many years to come. This may not be the right option for everyone, but it is for me. I am sure as I continue competing in this sport this will all get tweaked to allow for better performance.

See you on the jiu jitsu mats (Zebra Mats, to be more precise) in AP gear!

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