Wreck & Damage
By: D Norfolk elementalkickboxing, kickboxingleeds, trainingwithaninjury
“Every injury is specific to what has happened, but the advice that I will give is that if you have a lower body injury, to work your upper body out. If you have an upper body injury, work your lower body out. Again, move what is not broken and you will definitely feel better.” Forrest Griffin 1 1979-Present (Mixed Martial Artist2, Former UFC3 Light Heavyweight4 Champion)
It is the time that every active martial artist or indeed committed amateur or professional athlete dreads, and there will come a time always. When you will get injured. It may be a sprain, it may be a muscle pull, it may be a bone break or even a dislocation.
I am of course ruling out the cuts and scrapes that occur as part of martial arts or any physical training. Those ones that you only release when something like soap contacts them in the shower and you think to yourself owwww when did that happen, like the confused protagonist of a Christopher Nolan5 film.
Injuries are the realisation that you may indeed have:
- Overstretched yourself beyond your limit.
- Done something improperly and this is nature’s way of saying don’t do that again.
- Somebody hitting you are twisting you in a way that may be in all senses of the word vigorous.
But, when these things happen, you will be forced to realise that not only do you need to fix what ever has gone wrong, but you need to continue your training.
For me, I have been relatively light on injuries over my journey on the path. I can keenly remember the following:
- Blistered feet from one dojo that had very rough carpet, leaving blood blisters6 for a couple of weeks.
- Dislocated thumb during a ridge hand strike7, some bruising but no rehab needed
- Tendonitis8 during some heavy periods of archery9 shooting, a month of so being careful.
- Groin pulls on a couple of occasion
- Cracked rib after black belt grading, took a couple of weeks to heal
- Some bruising after a whack on the nose whilst helping with black belt grading. Generally fine.
Each of these times I remember distinctly thinking to myself, how am I going to train and indeed should I train.
What is important during these is to think carefully and calmly how bad you think the injury is, you should ideally understand what hurts and how you have damaged the flesh, muscle or limb. If you need to speak to a doctor, there should be nothing stopping you doing this, they will look to getting you fixed as soon as possible. What they won’t do is tell you when to start training again, unless you are a professional and they will give you the ‘all clear’ to compete. But this usually means you have been doing some light training during your rehabilitation10.
Now, I’m not a doctor or a physician of any sort, however, as a biologist11 is understanding anatomy and I understand how muscles work and can get stressed. More than this, as someone who has visited gyms and trained at various times and various place, I know how my body works and what is a comfortable level of pain or stress. I will decide how much I need to do but I will not look to do more that I feel comfortable with, knowing that I may cause myself further injury by overworking.
When researching this article, my theories were born out by various articles, some of which I have listed below. I did particularly like the video by Jesse Enkamp12 (The first of the YouTube links below). That talks through the most modern thinking around injury and the processes not only to avoid but to get yourself back into fighting fitness.
For me, the most important thing is, which I think you will see mentioned in numerous articles and videos. When you are injured, unless you are otherwise advised, you shouldn’t abstain from all training. But you should scale back your usual routine and become comfortable with what you are doing. That is not to say it will not hurt and I do not push the ‘no pain no gain’13 quotation around injuries. The key thing is to be sensible.
For example, if you have groin strain, don’t be looking to push your kicking and risk further problems, but look to build the muscles in your legs and keep the flexibility working without too much discomfort. Or indeed, you could work on your core or upper body, which in the first instance is how you may have strained your groin. Going back to reasoning I gave above in that your body will tell you what is wrong or what hurts.
Each time I have received an injury I can boil it down to the above, again as an example, I dislocated my thumb as it was not tucked tightly enough under my palm. After popping it back in quickly, it was not till the next day the swelling occurred. But has taught me to yes keep that tight or risk further pain, yes good monkey now you understand, I thought to myself.
This principle is again as mentioned is about understanding how you were injured, what is injured and what hurts. Most of the time it may be something you can walk off quite happily. Maybe a few ibuprofen or ice for a couple of days, but no harm no foul.
You will remember back to some of my previous articles, the sum of which being, this is a learning process for us all. What is comfortable for me may not be for others, we are after all, individuals. It is about knowing where you messed up, how that thing hurt and using that as a feedback loop for your progression.
We are lucky that our club also incorporates personal training, where, if you cannot figure out what you did wrong, you can ask someone to assess what you are doing. Or as I will have said before, ask the person you are training/sparring with. Use that as your feedback loop, if something feels uncomfortable, try to break down whether you are doing something that will injure you in the future or whether it is something that just requires a training of underdeveloped flexibility or strength. But these pieces of information must be evaluated and disseminated to put together a complete picture. So, it is this voyage of self-discovery that I would ask that you look at, not in a hippy dippy14 way, but analysis of your own strong and weak points, then focus on what your weak points are.
To end on a quote from Sun Tzu15, which can be interpreted in a number of ways a fully recommend a reading of the ‘Art Of War’16.
“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended17”. This is a simple strategy that informs looking for the strengths and weaknesses in an enemy’s lines, but for these purposes it can be used to illustrate the point above. Your weaknesses are weaknesses are so as they are neglected, understand, and improve the area of weakness and there will cease to be a weakness.
- * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEF-Ia_YehU
- * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AeLm8PmnGA
- * https://plumdragonherbs.com/blogs/news/top-10-tips-for-martial-arts-training-when-injured
- * https://www.squareonephysio.com.au/news_post/niggle-or-injury-how-to-tell-if-its-a-pain-you-should-train-through-or-one-you-should-rest/
- * https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/should-you-train-through-injury-video/
- * https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/smart-ways-stay-fit-when-youre-injured
- * https://www.physio-network.com/blog/how-much-should-you-train-during-injury/
- * https://www.tbmlockerroom.com/8-exercises-you-can-do-to-keep-fit-when-injured/
- * https://blog.mapmyrun.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-training-while-injured/
- * https://www.t-nation.com/training/how-to-train-through-injuries
- * https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/training-through-injuries-the-dos-and-donts
- * https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/10-most-common-gym-injuries-and-how-to-prevent-them/slide-5
- * https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445177/
- 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forrest_Griffin
- 2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_martial_arts
- 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Fighting_Championship
- 4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UFC_champions#Light_Heavyweight_Championship
- 5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Nolan
- 6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_blister
- 7 https://blackbeltwiki.com/ridge-hand-strike
- 8 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tendonitis/
- 9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archery
- 10 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_medicine_and_rehabilitation
- 11 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biologist
- 12 https://www.karatebyjesse.com/
- 13 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_pain,_no_gain
- 14 https://www.lexico.com/definition/hippy-dippy
- 15 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu
- 16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_War
- 17 https://suntzusaid.com/book/6