No matter how careful one is during training, injuries can happen. Whether it’s simple wear and tear of your muscles or an accident while sparring, the best way to deal with injuries is to address them immediately. As many martial arts utilize similar muscle groups in your body, there are some injuries that are more common than others.
Here are the five most common martial arts injuries and how to prevent them.
Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes
These types of minor injuries are bound to happen, especially during sparring. When you let your guard down and relax while facing another student, you may be more likely to acquire minor injuries. Though such injuries are enormously common regardless of which type of martial art you practice, taking care to use proper technique can help alleviate the frequency of them.
Making sure your equipment fits properly can also help lessen injuries like chaffing, bruising, and contact burns. From having a Gi in good condition to having mats that have been properly cared for, there are many ways in which you can reduce the chances of these minor injuries.
Ear injuries happen when there is blunt trauma to the ear. During the healing process, the ear may shrivel up and fold in on itself, giving this type of injury its name. Cauliflower ear is a painful injury that can result in temporary loss of hearing, headaches, and more, which is why protective headgear or helmets are so important as a preventative measure.
During sparring or when training striking arts (MMA, in particular), ear contact should be protected against with immense care. While perfecting your guard is the best defense, you can greatly reduce the risk of training partners sustaining these ear injuries, by making sure your own gloves are in good condition and you aren’t using any illegal strikes to the side of the head.
Many martial arts incorporate kicks as a central technique, which may leave you open to the possibility of a groin injury. When you acquire a groin strain, there is a muscular tear or rupture to one of your groin muscles. You may experience groin pain or tenderness, muscles spasms, and tightness. Since these types of injuries often occur due to lack of proper warm-up and cool-down, a great method of prevention is simply ensuring that your body is warmed up and that you are stretching your muscles before and after practice.
Similar to groin strains, hamstring injuries occur when students pull or tear a hamstring while performing high kicks, for example. Though students may attempt to force their bodies to perform techniques that are beyond their skill level, the severity of hamstrung injuries can be reduced through hamstring stretches. Cross-training can also help build up resistance and strength in the muscles around the hamstrings, especially through rigorous cardio.
Stress fractures are some of the most common injuries in sports. They are tiny cracks within a bone and are caused by repetitive force through the bone (the bone is ultimately weaker than whatever the activity is demanding). This often occurs with runners, but since martial arts are often intensive, stress factures frequently affect martial arts students as well.
Treatment typically centers on resting and can take up to eight weeks to heal. In order to prevent stress fractures, it’s important not to set unrealistic goals that can ultimately harm your body; include cross-training and stop once you notice any sort of pain. Don’t go past your threshold during floor work, as tapping out may save you weeks of recovery.