I cracked the fourth toe a year ago and now every other training in judo or bjj it hurts (even though I am taping it together and avoiding foot sweeps).

The doctor says there is nothing you can do to strengthen that toe and injuries are the price you pay for martial arts.

What would you recommend so I'm able to keep doing bjj and judo as long as possible? (I want to prevent back-, neck-, shoulder-, wrist-, knee- injury). Do you think swimming (for muscle state) and yoga (for flexibility) is a good shot?


2 Answers 2


Small Joint Training

The doctor is right in practicality, if not in technicality. If you have a weight bearing bone, it can be thickened, if you have muscle that you have conscious control over, you can exercise and strengthen it.

However, the amount of work and time to improve it will be vast and then it still won't mean much in the face of full body weight throws, etc. Making a pencil twice as strong doesn't matter if it gets run over by a truck all the same.

You can try to do things to protect your toe from re-injury, which may include taping, braces, limiting the type of training, but that's about it. It's a small joint, and a key part of many grappling arts is using full strength/leverage against small joints just because there's practical limits to what you can do to protect them.

Training to Avoiding Injury

Whole body strength training is great. Swimming is a good option. Give your body time to recover and build muscle. Yoga can be a great option as well, if you focus on stabilizers and making sure you have strength along your whole range of motion. If you get flexibility but have no strength at your need end-range of motion, you simply open your joint up to instability and risk.

Particular for grappling arts is to be mindful in training - tap out early if you can't get a way out, make sure your training partners are operating with an appropriate amount of speed to their skill level - getting cranked too hard is a great way to get permanent joint damage for no real learning value at all.

  • I didn't know about the braces. Will deffinitely try them out! In searching the web I found the [following] (breakingmuscle.com/other-martial-arts/…) cross training routine for judo. I definitely don't want to do just weight-lifting. Have you heard about any swimming routine with elements of weight-lifting/pull-ups/push-ups useful for bjj/judo? Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 19:10
  • 1
    I haven't heard about a specific swimming routine, however, swimming is a generally great all around strength workout while being easy on the joints. You may want to look into some routines for firefighters - they are also required to sling full bodyweight over their shoulders for a living, and they may have some useful exercises worth considering.
    – Bankuei
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:40

For the toe, it is important that you restore normal flexibility and strength, though it is difficult to tell whether this is a problem for you. I had an open dislocation of this toe once, and the main problem was that after the skin healed, the toe kept getting stubbed because it did not behave in the manner I was used to. The toe would remain mostly straight when I bent the other toes, and this made it easy to jam repeatedly. To help restore this, I would recommend exaggerated stepping where you work through your toes' full range of motion.

For general injury prevention, take good falls and don't fight force with force. Whether particular cross training will be effective for you depends on where you are starting from, which is impossible to assess over the internet.

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