Boxing and martial arts, such as karate, taekwondo, judo and many more, have a high prevalence of injuries to many joints and soft tissues of the body. This is due to the high amount of impact, falls, repetition and overstraining. In this blog, we will look at a few of the most common injuries and how they occur.
The most important injury to be aware of is head injuries due to impact from a punch/kick or falling to the ground. Concussion can result in symptoms such as loss of consciousness, short term memory loss, confusion, nausea and headaches but can also present with many other symptoms and sometimes last for hours or even weeks. The major concern with concussion is it can lead to second impact syndrome, which occurs when someone who already has concussion symptoms continues to play/compete and receives another concussion. Second impact syndrome can lead to more serious, permanent injuries and even death. The most effective method of decreasing the risk of concussion is to wear protective headgear and learn to fall correctly.
Rotator Cuff Injuries, AC Joint Injuries or Shoulder Impingement:
Due to the repetitive nature of boxing and striking in other martial arts, as well as positions the arm may be placed during submission techniques, the shoulder joint is another area we often see injuries. Once again poor technique with repetitive striking at training and competition can lead to overuse of the rotator cuff resulting in tendinopathies or tears while the constant work in front of the body to strike and block, can result in an increased risk of impingement. A fall onto the shoulder is a common mechanism for AC joint ruptures and injuries as well. It is important to learn correct technique so as to not overstrain during a strike, and to ensure you build up your training sufficiently and correctly, to minimise the chances of overuse injuries. Learning to fall is once again very important to decrease the risk of shoulder related injuries.
Traumatic Hand/Wrist/Ankle/Knee Injuries:
Wrist and hand injuries as well as ankle and knee injuries are very common in contact sports, especially due to the high impact of arm and lower limb strikes (punches and kicks or knees). This can result in bruising or tears to the soft tissue such as muscles, tendons or ligaments as well as the risk of fractures. Protective gear is extremely important to minimising these injuries but the importance of technique should also not be forgotten. I poorly timed or placed strike could be the difference between a knockout and fracturing your wrist.
Achilles Tendon Injuries:
The achilles tendon is another area we often see injuries in martial arts and boxing. This is due to the nature of the stance during most of these sports which involves placing a lot of the weight on the balls of the feet or the toes. This puts an increase strain on the calves and achilles and injuries are frequent, particularly in the older population. Ruptures of the achilles occur and result in a long time off training/competition with overuse injuries to the achilles also being very common. Make sure to build up your training correctly while continuing to work on calf flexibility and strengthening as well as correct biomechanics and technique to decrease your risk of these types of injuries.