Martial arts competitions are an increasingly popular sport for all ages. And it’s something that people perform, often with injuries. There’s no doubt it’s an injury-prone sport, however, if it’s a sport that you enjoy, there are things you can do to ensure you minimize injuries beforehand and treat them well after they occur in order to maximize recovery times.
Martial Arts Overview
Obviously, spending a lot of time trying to strike someone else in any capacity is going to result in potential injuries, and perhaps more than any other sport. The exact nature of the injuries will depend highly on the exact type of sport that’s being played. Here are examples of different types of this sport including the levels of risk associated with each in general:
- Light Contact Points – There are a number of sports where the goal is just to make light contact in certain areas, such as on the chest, of your opponent in order to score a point. Many Karate contests are like this, for example. In this case, the chances for injuries are relatively minor compared to other versions. The injuries are going to be the usual kind, often related to accidents.
- Medium Contact – There are other competitions such as for Judo, that are going to involve more serious contact, doing full throws on someone towards the ground, for example. This isn’t going to be as severe in terms of injuries as full contact, but you could definitely end up with strains when people fall the wrong way, and occasionally more serious fallout.
- Full Contact – Full contact martial arts competitions will include more serious injuries including wrist issues, breakages, all the way up to concussions or worse. The important thing is to try to make sure that you follow every safety precaution that is available in order to minimize potential injuries, especially in this type of sport.
Martial Arts Injuries: Hand
Striking with the hand, even in point system martial arts where you aren’t actually trying to make hard contact is going to lead to some potentially serious issues. Here are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to hand injuries in martial art competitions:
- Wrist Wrapping – It’s especially important to wrap your hands when you’re training because the injury is going to come when the bones, ligaments and so on in your wrist move the wrong way when you’re punching, and not seamlessly with your hand. Taking the extra time to wrap your wrist right is essential to preventing such injuries.
- Gloves Are Important But Not Foolproof – Obviously, this depends on the type of gloves you’re wearing, If you’re doing more of a boxing type sport, then the gloves are going to be much larger, which means that there’s more padding for your hand and you’re less likely to end up with an injury there.
- Everything Up to Fractures Are Possible – Martial arts are very often going to not just involve, but focus on your hands. Jammed fingers are just where the trouble begins. While it’s true that minor breakages in hands from striking someone’s head, either by accident or as part of a full-contact sport, can heal by themselves, much more severe fractures frequently happen in this sport as well. It’s not the least bit uncommon to have to put screws in your hand in order to get bone alignment back in place after a misplaced strike.
Martial Arts Injuries: Head
Concussions are almost always a serious concern whenever it comes to a full-contact sport. However, they are a particular concern in a sport related to a martial art, due to the fact that blows are often aimed directly at the head on purpose, as opposed to what happens in many other full contact sports such as American Football, where sacking a quarterback in a way that makes his head bounce off the ground and result in a possible concussion is often an accidental side effect.
Here are some important factors to note when it comes to concussions in these types of sports:
- Headgear – Obviously, wearing either a full helmet or one of the temple-protecting headgear options is going to be important to prevent injuries, even if you’re only sparring. The importance of this will, of course, vary based on the exact sport. Headshots may be less common in a martial art sport like judo, for example, but this doesn’t mean that head blows are impossible, especially in contact with the ground.
- Proper Judging and Concussion Detection – It’s often possible to recover quickly from head injuries like concussions as long as they aren’t happening too often. However, the critical thing is that you don’t continue to have someone be hit in the head after they sustained a concussion. That’s why having a medical professional and judge around for all matches and sparring that could involve headshots is critical to avoiding these sorts of injuries.
- CTE – The danger if you don’t catch someone as being unconscious and allow them to continue to be hit after they’ve potentially sustained a concussion, is a condition known as chronic traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. While it’s true that this condition doesn’t tend to happen all at once, it’s what is called a progressive degenerative disease. It occurs due to repetitive head trauma.
Anyone who is in the business of potentially being hit repeatedly in the head, whether accidentally or on purpose, is going to run the risk of ending up with CTE in the long run. It’s a known effect with those who play American football, boxers, wrestlers, and all manner of professional martial artists and fighters in the sport. It can lead to a massive loss of brain function due to its nature, and it’s important to watch out for without a doubt.
Martial Arts Injuries: Broken Bones
Another highly common injury when it comes to martial sports is the possibility of ending up with broken bones. For sure, the more protective equipment you wear, the less this is going to happen, but many fighting sports don’t wear very much at all. It’s particularly common to break bones in your hands, your shinbone, and your arms because you’ll often be using these to defend yourself in matches. The targets of strikes can often become broken as well, including the orbital bone around your eye, and bones in your face. It’s also common to target shins.
All this is to say that it’s a good idea to wear additional protection in these areas whenever possible in order to minimize the potential issues that could result otherwise.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that not all broken bones will necessarily require surgery, so if a fracture occurs during a match, you shouldn’t despair about that. For example, a broken nose may need to be reset, but it’s rare that more surgery than that will be required. The important thing is to consult a doctor over the issue and not make any assumptions whatsoever until you’ve had some kind of consultation on the event. Such events may require you to be more cautious about your current sport, however.