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Martial arts injuries

 Martial arts in its different forms carry with it the risk of injury, ranging from mild to severe. Seasoned martial arts performers stand a higher chance of sustaining a more serious injury due to the competitive nature of the sport. Amateurs are more likely to suffer contusions, sprains and strains. Before beginning martial arts or any type of sport, it is wise to consult with your health professional to see if you can withstand rigorous training. Some major martial arts injuries are:

Contusions and lacerations

Inherent close contact puts these among the most common martial arts injuries. First aid treatment consists of ice and bandaging depending on the nature of the bruise or cut. Physiotherapy for more serious contusions (bruising) is very helpful in helping the body break down the inflammation thus promoting faster healing rates and less long-term internal scarring.

Sprains and strains

Injury to ligaments, muscles and tendons can occur from overstretching these structures resulting in torn fibres. RICE (Rest, ice, compression and elevation) are helpful in relieving these conditions, followed by physiotherapy treatment.

Knee injuries

Knee injuries can result from forceful kicking, sudden changes in direction with the knee bent, landing awkwardly from a jump or sustaining a kick to the knee. Karate, judo and Thai kick boxers are all prone to this type of injury. ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are quite common for the reasons mentioned. An ACL injury causes sharp knee pain, swelling and difficulty bearing weight. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) can be used to decrease pain and swelling, but you should get to your physiotherapist quickly as possible for an assessment. Surgery may be required in the most severe cases.

Dislocations and fractures

These are quite common in most martial arts, especially where grappling or throwing is involved. Fractures to the fingers and toes as well as the long bones of the forearm and legs are common. Dislocations to the shoulders, fingers and toes may also be sustained. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), medical attention and physiotherapy treatment are vital to enable you to return to martial arts.

Back injuries

These occur in martial arts where lifting, twisting, and falling is involved (e.g. throwing in judo). Back pain, decreased movement and stiffness are some of the symptoms. Rest and ice are helpful, but it is important to see your physiotherapist so we can accurately diagnose and treat the injury and help you prevent re-injury. Physiotherapy will help with pain management and it will improve your flexibility and strength.

Severe injuries

These are life-threatening and encompass a wide array of injuries such as thoracic trauma, stomach trauma involving internal organs, spinal cord injury, cervical (neck) injury, testicular injury, head injuries resulting in neurological damage, and many more. These all require immediate medical attention, and in some instances the player may not be able to return to martial arts.

Participating in Martial arts is a great way to keep fit, improve concentration and discipline while at the same time learning how to defend oneself and others. However, it can be dangerous and demanding. In order to stave off the risk of injury, it is wise to work continuously at improving and maintaining flexibility, strength and endurance. Physiotherapy can help you do this, and if you do become injured, see us first.


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We do not warrant or represent that the information in this site is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. We recommend that you seek individual advice before acting on any information in this site. We have made every effort to ensure that the information on our website is correct at the time of publication but recommend that you exercise your own skill and care with respect to its use. If you wish to purchase our services, please do not rely solely on the information in this website.

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