How To Prevent Injuries
Injuries suck and most, if not all martial artists will experience injury at one point or another in their martial arts careers.
As much as we need to prepare ourselves for what we should do in the event of an injury, it is arguably more important to know how to prevent these miscellaneous injuries and to stop old injuries from reoccurring again.
In Karate the most common injuries athletes can obtain include:
- Concussion: Forceful contact to the head, whether accidental or intentional can cause the brain to experience whiplash and shake within the skull. This can often cause cognitive dysfunction, headaches, nausea, dizziness and can become dangerous with continued impact.
- Extremities (Sprains, strains, cuts and fractures): Generally the most common injuries include minor bruises and cuts to the arms and legs. On occasion there may be joint injuries such as ligament sprain or muscle strain.
- Head/Ears/Nose (cuts and bruises).
So, how can we work on preventing the incidence of some of these injuries, especially those unnecessarily obtained due to poor injury prevention?
- Strength and Conditioning: Regardless of your sport, strength, speed and power are generally all required to perform techniques well in competition. Many sprains and strains often occur due to poor muscular strength surrounding the injured joint or poor technique execution. Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you they participate in weekly gym sessions on top of their sport-specific training to ensure their body is not only technically skilled, but physically strong enough to support the high demands of the sport.
- Find The Most Appropriate Help: Something we see in many kids is the want to get back into their sport after an injury. It is very difficult to find the patience at times to wait out the recovery phase, but unfortunately to their detriment they come back prematurely and end up aggravating their previous injury. Just because you don’t feel anymore pain, does not mean the injury has healed. Due to this, it is often difficult for GPs and therapists to know what is going on, so it is incredibly important to understand who you need to see for what type of injury. Specialists will always have a better understanding than a general physician. For example, if you obtained an injury during a sporting competition, it is more appropriate to see an Exercise or Sports Physio, than a general Physio or Osteo. Sports Physios specialise in exercise-based injuries and are more like to have a greater understanding of the stresses placed on the body participating in an athletic lifestyle as opposed to the lifestyle of general population.
- Recovery and Nutrition: You wouldn’t necessarily guess it, but biochemical and nutritional deficiency is one of the greatest reasons athletes get injured. Look at it this way, if you’re not fuelling your body with nutritious foods or getting enough quality sleep, you stress out your bodily functions. If you bodily functions are stressed than it’s not going to do its job of absorbing the nutrients you’re eating, or regulating your bowel movements, and therefore, you will start to feel tired and lethargic. Ever felt light-headed during a training session and can’t explain it? You may have not fuelled your body enough or in the ideal way. Being lethargic on the Mat is not going to prepare you to perform technique correctly and we all know what happens when you train half-heartedly. Higher risk of injury.
*In martial arts, there seems to be a higher prevalence of injured females than males due to the lack of females participating in prescribed gym training. On top of the fact that females have naturally greater flexibility than males, their bodies tend to lack efficient support and stability making them more prone to joint dislocations and sprains.
If you find yourself getting injured all the time, if it is a twisted ankle here, a sprained finger there, or even simple things like falling over your own feet constantly, try and address these three elements. Are you actually training your muscles to be strong and supportive? Are you eating enough of the right foods? Are you seeing the most appropriate allied health professional for your injury? If you answered No to any of these questions, then this is what you need to focus on to improve your martial arts performance.
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