Rib injuries in Jiu-Jitsu and how to treat them

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also known as the gentle art. This comes from the fact that the sport and the martial art of BJJ doesn’t utilize direct hits – you can only use positional advantage and submissions in order to win. This is a great thing because it means during rolling sessions you will be able to go really hard against your opponent with little chances that either one of you will get injured. However, this doesn’t mean at all that there is no risk whatsoever of getting injured in BJJ. One of the most common injuries in this sport is the injury of the ribs. Read more about Rib injuries in Jiu-Jitsu

How do rib injuries occur in BJJ

You can easily think of a scenario in which a person injures his or her ribs in BJJ. Takedowns, various submissions, and even certain positions and sudden moves can all cause rib injuries in BJJ. While they are not so common that every time you roll you should think about protecting your ribs in particular – they are still relatively one of the most common injuries in BJJ.


There are two main forms of injuries that may befall your ribs – soft tissue rib injuries and rib fractures. Even though these injuries are different in their degree of seriousness – they can both be incredibly painful. The most frequent soft tissue rib injuries are bruising (the damaging of blood vessels), intercoastal strains (strains of the muscles that surround your ribs), and costochondral separation (the tearing of the rib from the supporting structures). The fractures of the ribs are not as common as the soft tissue rib injuries – but they too are known to happen to BJJ practitioners. They are known to most often happen on the outer curve of the ribs – the weakest point in the chain.

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Treatment for rib injuries

In most cases, rib injuries need 4-6 weeks of inactivity and rest in order to heal properly. So, the smartest thing that you could do in this sense is to rest and recover. Sleep long and sound, and be mindful of your diet. Don’t overstrain your ribs during this time and don’t dare to even think of going on the mats until you heal fully. In all cases, it would be a good thing for you to seek the advice of a professional in the field. This is especially the case if you feel that anything’s off – if you start coughing up green phlegm or blood, if your chest pains you a lot, if you get a fever – if anything happens to you out of the ordinary then you should seek a doctor’s advice immediately.

How to avoid rib injuries

The best thing to do if you wish to avoid rib injuries is to keep in shape. Few people realize but there are important muscles around the ribs – the intercostal muscles. They too need to be trained in order to be strong and to protect the ribs. Do proper warmups before your rolling sessions and practice your breakfalls – if you remember, the takedowns are one of the greatest causes of rib injuries in Jiu-jitsu, so if you know how to break your fall you will add a new layer of protection to your ribs.