The different types of martial arts are used for self-defence and fitness. Many practitioners follow the philosophies to reach a harmony in their life and develop balance. Martial arts require good balance, coordination and reaction time. Body and spatial awareness are a priority, as well. Cardiovascular endurance is essential, also. A strong musculoskeletal system is important for performing martial arts safely.
Common Martial Arts Injuries
- Bruises: Bruising is caused when blood vessels below the skin are ruptured, usually due to a direct blow or pressure. As the blood leaves the vessel and spreads out under the skin it causes a discoloration and pain in the affected area.
- Sprains: Sprains can occur in any joint when the joint is rotated through an extended range of motion, causing tears to the ligaments that support the joint. Sprains can range from minor, with tearing in only a few fibres, to severe, with complete tears to one or more of the ligaments. Martial artists’ joints are subjected to many forces that could cause sprains.
- Muscle Strains: Muscle strains are the excessive tearing of muscle fibres that is often caused by overstretching or working against an extreme load. The muscle fibres tear causing inflammation and bruising within the muscle. This leads to pain and disability. The tears can range from minor, involving a small number of fibres, to major, involving large numbers of fibres and a large area of the muscle.
- Tendonitis: Tendonitis is an injury caused by overuse. Overuse tendonitis is usually caused by repetitive movements in a range of movement outside of normal use. The stretching of the tendons and abnormal rubbing causes inflammation that leads to pain. Repetitive practice blocking, kicking, and delivering blows can lead to tendon damage.
- Dislocations / Subluxations: Dislocations and subluxations, or partial dislocations, occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion causing the bones of the joint to become disjointed or moved out of position. Sprains and strains often accompany dislocations. The force placed on body parts in angulated positions or while in awkward poses may lead to dislocations or subluxations.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused when an acute injury causes damage to the brain tissue. In martial arts there are several possibilities for TBI. Blows to the head or neck and falls are the common causes of TBI in martial arts. These may range from simple concussions to bruising of the brain and complete separation of the nervous tissue at the brain stem.
Injury Prevention Strategies
- Practicing to improve technique and ensure proper application of all strikes and blocks will help reduce the stress placed on the joints and tendons.
- The use of appropriate padding and protective gear will also help reduce trauma to the body during practice and competition.
- Learning proper technique from a qualified master will ensure that you perform the skills properly and reduce the chances of injury.
- Practicing in controlled environments will also reduce the chances of accidental injuries.
- Strengthening and stretching exercises will reduce the stress placed on the muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments.
3 Martial Arts Stretches
- Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.
- Sitting Single Leg Hamstring Stretch: Sit with one leg straight out in front and point your toes upwards. Bring your other foot towards your knee and reach towards your toes with both hands.
- Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.