Every sport has an element of risk, but martial arts is certainly among the higher risk sports due to its intensity and physicality. Therefore, injuries are often part and parcel of the sport. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of sustaining an injury by taking the necessary precautions. We look at some of the most common martial arts injuries and the steps you can take to prevent them.
A bone fracture is arguably the main form of injury you can suffer when practising martial arts. Broken fingers and broken wrists are perhaps the main examples of fractures suffered by martial arts practitioners, but there are many more.
As you’d expect, the most common upper body fractures occur in the knuckles, fingers, wrist, and elbows, as well as the nose, face and skull. Lower down the body, the most common lower body fractures occur in the thighs, knees, ankles and toes.
If you were to suffer a bone fracture, you could be looking at up to six months out of action, depending on the nature and severity of the fracture, so you need to do everything you can to prevent this from happening.
Prevention tip: Proper technique is key to avoiding bone fractures, so make sure you move the necessary body parts correctly and practise new techniques at half speed.
When you’re practising martial arts, there is also the risk of straining a muscle or tendon. Various factors can cause a muscle strain, the primary one being improper technique.
Another factor is speed of movement – for example, when you connect with an opponent or object, you could pull a muscle due to the rapid stop that occurs when making this connection.
A groin strain is one of the most notorious strains which comes from executing martial arts moves, as many martial arts incorporate kicks as a central technique. When you strain your groin, you may experience a combination of tenderness, muscles spasms, and tightness.
If not treated immediately, strains can result in severe limitations further down the line, so if you fall victim to a strain when training, make sure it gets treated as soon as possible.
Prevention tip: To avoid the dreaded groin strain, carry out a few simple groin stretches before and after each session.
Sprains are among the most common martial arts injuries. For those who aren’t familiar with the science behind a sprain, it is the stretching and tearing of a ligament – the band of tissue which connects two bones or cartilages.
Your ligaments are more vulnerable to stretches and tears due to the stress which is placed on them by repetitive activities such as kicking and punching.
As such, the areas most vulnerable to stretches and tears when executing martial arts moves are your ankles, hamstrings and wrists, but these are just some examples.
Prevention tip: Anyone who’s suffered a hamstring injury will tell you how unpleasant it is. Carrying out a couple of quick hamstring stretches will not only reduce the risk of tearing your hamstring during a session, it will increase your acceleration and help you change direction faster by improving your general flexibility.
A concussion is defined as ‘a traumatic brain injury’ and is one of the most serious martial arts injuries.
In the context of martial arts, concussions are usually caused by either being punched or kicked in the head, being thrown or hitting the ground with your head. Therefore, martial arts disciplines such as Judo and Muay Thai are more likely to trigger this type of injury.
In the most extreme cases, concussions can cause significant problems with memory, balance, concentration and co-ordination, so are to be avoided at all costs.
Prevention tip: As with other martial arts injuries, technique is key to minimising the risk of concussion. If you’re an instructor, make sure your students use the appropriate techniques when sparring and throwing. Likewise, if you’re a practitioner, speak to your coach if you’re unsure over how to carry out a move.
Bruises are admittedly one of the more minor martial arts injuries, but they can be quite serious in some cases. It depends whereabouts on the body you sustain a bruise and how severe it is. A bruised arm is quite innocuous, a bruised eye or bone less so!
You are more likely to sustain bruises when practising martial arts disciplines which involve punches and open-hand strikes, such as Taekwondo. However, this kind of injury is common whatever styles you practise.
If you regularly get bruises from martial arts, you may want to try a different discipline or reconsider your positioning. As harsh as it may sound, some martial arts practitioners would argue that you’re frequently getting bruised because your positioning leaves your body more exposed to being struck in tender areas.
Prevention tip: Several factors impact the likelihood of bruising injuries, such as proper training and attention to detail, and use of protective equipment. Making sure your protective equipment such as headgear fits properly will help reduce the risk of sustaining injuries like bruising and chaffing.
Of course, even the most experienced and cautious martial arts practitioner can suffer injuries when engaging in such a high-intensity sport.
That’s why you need martial arts insurance to protect yourself every time you set foot on the dojo.
Our martial arts insurance covers you if you accidentally injure someone else or injure yourself during a session.
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