Under: Conditioning
19 Nov 2008


One story of my martial arts career would span from one injury to the next. Seemingly injuries are part and parcel of karate, judo, boxing and any other physical sports. Do injuries have to occur? Are their best practices for warm-ups, stretches, workouts and cool-downs?


I started in karate learning how to toughen my knuckles and fingers so I could fight better. The rational was that if I deadened my blows, I could hit harder and get injured less. As I continued in karate training I came to the realization that I would not get in many fights during my lifetime so way worry about a few injuries? While this topic is important, I will focus more on the mechanics of normal workouts to see where they might be improved for martial arts. Here is a video of injury prevention for some soccer players (football for the rest of the world).




Did you notice that the girls were being conditioned to use their legs in the way they play soccer? Martial arts conditioning is much the same. While when I was younger I did not stretch out before I sparred, I did have to go slow at first or I would have pulled a muscle.


A student ideally should first stretch out the legs and entire body before starting warm-ups. After you are stretched out then you should use the muscle group in the same way you want to workout. For instance you might stretch out your legs to gain greater flexibility and then do some half-speed kicks on the bag to get the muscles used to the motion.


After you have stretched out and warmed up, then you should be ready for a workout. One more thing – after the workout, walk it it off if need be and then do some cooling-down stretches. This will yet increase your flexibility.


Keep in mind when stretching that you should be taught how to do this initially or you might try and overdo it. If you over-stretch your leg and pull it… It may take months to fully heal again so be careful.


Now for the more important discussion (as I think basic methodology should be well known) about how to workout with injuries. A few times I would injure my leg or arm and be faced with stopping my workouts or adjusting my workouts so I could still do them.


Most recently I tweaked my arm lifting an awkward load and almost broke my forearm (but pulled some tendons). I could not put/pull any weight so I had to stop boxing workouts on the bag. I did more leg drills on the bag and also walked and ran. I’ve had to workout with just hands when I’ve hurt my leg in the past.


The most important thing I can tell you about injury prevention other than doing your warm-ups and stretches is to aviod hurting existing injuries! I cannot stress this enough because once a body part is injured, it is far easier to re-injure the affected part, increasing healing time. This last time I really missed my boxing workouts for several months.


As for the nature of the beast toughening of the body parts, if that is your chosen method – try and work up to the calluses and deadening of nerves that you seek. If you end up injuring yourself – it will take that much longer to get back to that which you enjoy. I thought I would leave you with some funny sports injuries in this video.




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