How I Miraculously Sped up my Broken Elbow Recovery Time

Man I’ve got a story to tell. You probably clicked on this thinking I’m going to tell you about how I healed relatively fast from 1 broken elbow.

Nope, I’ve broken both of my arms. To tell the truth only one of those times were from jiu jitsu. The first time was from being on a skateboard and I dropped in on a concrete half pipe. I’m gonna go right into it:

How I broke my first arm

Man this was terrible. I thought I was from gonna Tony Hawk the snot out of this half pipe. I swear I really did. That’s not what went down at all. I dropped in, and I immediately fell. I knew something was wrong the second I hit the ground. I think everybody at the skate park knew something was wrong because people immediately came over to see if I was okay.

Well I ain’t afraid to admit I have a bit of an ego, (I think everybody does whether they want to admit it or not) so naturally: barely able to breathe or stand up, I said “Fine! Fine! I’m good. I’m fine.” Dude I was so far from being fine. I was from being light years away from fine.

I actually was so stubborn I dealt with it the rest of the day. I forced myself to believe my arm wasn’t broken, and I was gonna feel fine in a couple days. I slept that night and when I woke up my left arm was in agonizing pain, and I couldn’t move it at all. My elbow joint was so swollen it looked like a half of a turkey. Hilariously disgusting, but not hilariously painful.

So of course I went to the hospital. I swear I got to the x-ray table and the radiologist immediate said, “yeah your arm’s broken.” He didn’t even take the x-ray yet.

I had to see an orthopedic surgeon who also ran an MRI. It had turned out I had several broken chips in my left elbow joint and I had ruptured my tricep tendon. This mean’t he had to do a re-attach the tendon to a broken joint. I was at risk of facing amputation.

I had to wait a little over a week for the swelling to go down, and then enter surgery. If I wanted to keep my arm I had to, and that still didn’t guarantee it.

How I sped up my broken elbow recovery time

There was no way out of sitting in a cast for 3 months. Clearly I wasn’t training in the cast, but luckily enough I had short term disability with my work.

Like any of the bjj people reading I couldn’t stand being away from jiu jitsu. It sucked. The surgery was the most painful experience I had ever felt. The painkillers just made me feel sleepy and sick to my stomach. They really didn’t seem to help that much so I stopped taking a week or so after surgery. I honestly think one of the reason’s I healed faster was that I stopped the painkillers early.

What I did as soon as my arm didn’t hurt inside the cast anymore was trying to move and wiggle it. If I felt any pain I immediately stopped the movement. I spent pretty much all day everyday doing exactly that until my arm reached the edge of the cast. After about a month in the cast I no longer felt any pain but it also limited the vast majority of my movement. I then started flexing my bicep into the cast and would flex my arm little by little all around the cast, i just put a little more power into it.

<<another great resource for more types of arm injuries. It’s quite pricey but it has information on more than one type of arm injury.

As I went back to the doctor for my routine visits he was really surprised with how much better it looked but he didn’t want to take it out of the cast too early either. I had to sit in the cast a total of about two and a half months, but I did still get out of it a little early.

I then had to do stretches at home. He told me to do them at least for 1-2 hours a day but I actually just filled my entirety of my days with those stretches. Afterwards. My arm still had very limited mobility. I still wasn’t where I needed to be, and I still felt uncomfortable trying to roll at the gym with my arm the way it was. So I knew it was time to see an occupational therapist to help fix my arm.

At the Athletico I went to they had several tools to help get my arm moving. I learned a ton about to re-mobilize this specific injury. She got my arm moving a little more each and every session and I learned something new on how I could stretch it safely. I provided a few of the tools I used in the post if anyone is facing a similar ordeal.

The new knowledge led me to spend very long periods of my day stretching my arm. The number one and very most important part to why I healed rapidly and thoroughly is that I did not stop. I did not give up. In a time when was from being told “we’re taking your arm” I said “NOPE! I’m keeping it!”

<<This mobility ring helped me a ton! Click Here!

Having that strong mentality to start over with a baby arm and completely re-learn how to use it is truly the reason why I think I healed and other people don’t. Yes, I’m sure there is a dose of luck in there, but the reason I still have a strong left arm was my perseverance through all of it. The occupational therapy was extremely painful: on par with the surgery even.

There are several products out there you can buy for home used to get the mobility back from an injury, but honestly a five lb dumbell was one of the tools that helped me the most.

How I broke my right arm

Dude I had just gotten back to training jiu jitsu. I had been training for a few months. My left arm was really starting to feel a lot better. I was from being putting a TON of hours on the mat playing catch-up.

It was during a day class. I had put in 36 hours of mat time that week so I was pretty burned out. I was rolling with another blue belt and he started taking my back so I based myself in a wrestler’s referee’s position like an Idiot. Maybe from being so tired I forgot how dangerous this is in bjj when somebody has your back.

My training partner then went to backpack me and roll to take my back and of course we rolled over my right arm. I screamed out at the top of my lungs. It probably shook the walls of the gym.

<YYEHSYHHAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHSHHHIYYAAAAHH!!>

Man it hurt so freaking bad guys. Maybe I’m just a baby about it but man o’ man I never want to feel that again. I’m done with breaking my arms. I’m telling you guys. I am officially retired from breaking my arms. Ain’t happening again.

So it turned out this time I didn’t actually break my arm. I had a slight dislocation but I also tore my Ulnary Collateral Ligament. Luckily enough. This means I didn’t have to undergo surgery. It just means that I’m always going to suck really bad at being a baseball pitcher unless I get the surgery, and my arm is just going to hurt sometimes. So if the dream ever hits me and I want to play professional baseball I’ll have to get a Tommy John surgery.

 <<Great knowledge on how to come back for some of the people with acl tears. Click the image to look into it.

How I got back on the mat a month after my tear.

Ice. Guys. Ice is amazing. It’s the best painkiller on the entire planet if you ask me. Naturally I used this a lot. In a couple days the swelling had gone down significantly. As soon as the swelling went down I started making moves. I got my butt in the fitness class. I knew I couldn’t pick up the weights but I got my butt on the bike and peddled. I knew a very important concept which was that I had to get new blood to my injury.

Every day after training I would immediately move to icing my injury and every five minutes I switched to a heat pad. Five minutes cold. Five minutes hot. This is something my bjj instructors taught me.

  1. Ice is the best painkiller, and people forgot
  2. You have to get new blood to the injury
  3. Switching from cold to hot is very good for ligament injuries
  4. You have to keep the muscles around the injury strong

I got back on the mat in a month. I was very easy on my arm of course, but I was back nonetheless. You can shrug me off and say that I’m just lucky and I heal fast but I’m also type 1 diabetic. This means naturally I should heal slower. I honestly did something right in front of my coaches and even they were extremely amazed by how fast I was able to heal through my injury.

<<Click Here! Tennis elbow from grappling hurts. Don’t suffer more than you have to.

Take it to heart

I’m telling people all this because I want to help. I’ve been through debilitating injuries and it sucks. You have my deepest empathy if you’re a reader and you’re injured. It sucks. It sucks even worse when it happens over summer like it did for me both times. So I hope you guys take this seriously. Your body can do amazing things and heal in amazing ways when you don’t give up. Honestly seeking a professional like a physical therapist or occupational therapist is not a bad idea. They can really guide you through the healing process. You can overcome your injury. It takes time, patience, heart, and honestly it’s probably gonna take some pain too, but it can be done. I’ll have some products I recommend throughout the article. If you’re injured and trying to recover there are several tools out there you can utilize to get back in fighting shape. Thanks for reading! Don’t let an injury defeat you. You’re a warrior! Oss!


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Jonathan Schalberg

I'm Jonathan. I've trained BJJ for 4 years and I wrestled for 5. I want to share my passion for this martial art and also help you guys sift through the crap and avoid the jiu jitsu junk and get the good bjj gear you desire. I will be doing reviews on products that I think are good and companies who are trustworthy so you guys don't get ripped off again.

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