Separating The Athlete From The Athletic Trainer

training room

By PowerPlay Guest Blogger Chelsea Martinez

I’m an Athletic Trainer. I’m also an amateur jiu-jitsu competitor. Along the course of my jiu-jitsu career I’ve had my fair share of injuries. Broken toes, strained muscles, separated both shoulders, sprained my ankle, and suffered two concussions. I have no UCL in my left elbow and following an injury sustained in college, have had reconstructive surgery on my right one. The injuries have piled up, but to be honest I have no desire to stop training.

After my elbow surgery I can remember being asked if I would ever do Brazilian jiu-jitsu again, and the answer was a swift no way. After two weeks of physical therapy I was asking when I could go back. I returned the mat six months later.

For me, separating the athlete from the athletic trainer is a struggle. I’m a graduate student and Texas Licensed Athletic Trainer. I spend the majority of my time talking athletes out of the dumb decisions I often catch myself making. You can’t be good at jiu-jitsu and allow yourself to think about what injury you could sustain.  When I’m locked in a Kimora and I’m trying to fight out, I can’t think about what damage I’m doing to my joint capsule. If I’m laying in an armbar, I don’t like to think about my graft. If you think football players are tough, go to a jiu-jitsu class.  The tough mentality on dealing with injuries is at an entirely different level. I’ve seen a guy on crutches get on the mat for drills with multiple casts, and three weeks post rotator cuff surgery.

The latest injury has been a concussion I suffered in training. A freak accident caused my 8th concussion in many years. While the athletic trainer in me is screaming “what are you thinking,” the competitor is like “when can I get back on the mat?” The recovery isn’t any different, and while I have the knowledge base, my desire to apply the knowledge is zero to none.  I ice when I absolutely have to, but I’m not a huge fan. I do often times find myself giving my training partners advice and getting very annoyed when they don’t listen, even when I often don’t listen to my own advice. I know that cold and compression helps me come back faster and I know the science behind it.

Injuries take their toll but my background allows me to use my knowledge to come back stronger and stay in my game.


chelsea martinezBlogger Profile:  Chelsea Martinez earned her Bachelor’s Degree from McMurry University in Abilene TX. She is a current graduate student in athletic training at the University of Central Oklahoma, and a licensed athletic trainer in Texas. Chelsea has trained in Jui Jitsu since 2009, and currently holds the rank of Blue belt under Renato Taraves and coach TJ Tomlin. She previously trained under professors Mike Nottingham and Raymond Beal of Team USA Sylvio Behring, Abilene TX.