One of the questions martial arts instructors hear most frequently from prospective students or their parents has to do with injuries. Specifically, they want to know if there’s a risk of injury if they learn the martial arts. The truth is that there is a risk–as there would be with any physical activity—but there’s a benefit, as well.
Martial arts training can do a lot to prevent injuries because of the ways it increases overall fitness and provides other health benefits that can minimize the risks of getting hurt. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Some Common Martial Arts Injuries?
Let’s start by reviewing some of the most common martial arts injuries to illustrate the risks and be transparent about them. Here are some injuries that might occur in the course of a martial arts class or competition.
- Overuse injuries may occur when a student repeats a movement as they learn or master it. For example, a student’s wrist or hand might get inflamed after breaking boards.
- Muscle strains can occur if a student doesn’t warm up enough or uses improper form.
- Neck minor injuries may occur if a student sustains a blow to the head during a sparring match.
These are common injuries. We should note that most martial arts injuries are minor. More serious injuries, including concussion, may occur without proper training, which can lead to poor technique. That’s why students should perform proper warm up before hitting the mat and always have appropriate supervision.
How Can Studying the Martial Arts Aid in Injury Prevention?
Now, let’s talk about some of the ways that studying the martial arts can reduce the risk of injuries and even prevent serious injuries.
- Any martial art you study will help you to build muscle mass. Having strong muscles can help people catch themselves if they trip, thus preventing a potentially serious injury from occurring.
- Participating in a martial arts program, whether you study Tae Kwon Do or Mixed Martial Arts, improves flexibility and reduces the risk of muscle strain.
- Martial artists work hard, and their workouts improve balance and coordination, which can reduce the risk of accidents that result from clumsiness.
- Martial art workouts provide a cardiovascular fitness boost as well, reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Students of the martial arts learn how to build a strong mind-body connection, and the mindfulness created by that connection can make injury less likely as well.
People who are in good shape and have strong, toned muscles, are far less likely to sustain an injury than those with poor muscle tone. All contact sports carry some risk of injury, but martial arts participants work out in a way that maximizes their strength and coordination, thus preventing injuries.
Other Ways to Prevent Martial Arts Injuries
Here are some other things that instructors and students can do to prevent martial arts injuries.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment at all times. Wearing proper protective equipment, including a helmet, chest armor, and shin guards, can protect vulnerable areas of the body.
- Have a pre participation physical exam. This step is important for any adult who may have a health problem that could make it risky for them to participate in martial arts classes. Getting checked by a health care professional will identify any ongoing health issues and allow students to make an informed decision about their health.
- Perform proper warm up. Injuries are far more likely to occur when a student hits the mat without warming up first. Instructors should make sure all students warm up to prevent injury.
- Practice proper technique. Another common cause of injuries in martial arts is use of improper technique. For this reason, students should pay close attention to their instructors and use proper form any time they are on the mat.
There are always risk factors with any sport or physical activity. However, paying attention to instructors can reduce the risk of injury on the mat, and the physical fitness acquired in any martial arts class can reduce the risk of routine injuries anywhere you go.