The Psychology of Injury and Recovery

In martial arts, injuries can be somewhat inevitable. The sheer amount of physical contact involved in most martial arts makes injury prevention highly important, when training or competing. Once an injury does happen, the way you manage it will dictate how quickly you will recover from it.

Here are a few tips to keep you in the gym and off the sidelines:

Warm Up and Cool Down

The warm up serves a few purposes; it allows the body to boost blood and oxygen in the muscles being trained, it brings up your body's temperature, and it gives you a chance to get grounded and mindful with your training. Not only will you be more aware – leading to less accidents and incidents – but your muscles will become looser and less prone to strains or tears. Stretching should also be done after the warm up, so your muscles have a chance to acclimate to the stress.

Cool downs also serve a couple of purposes. By gently returning your body to its resting state, you minimize stiffness and soreness, by preventing blood and toxins from pooling in the muscles. One technique is to walk around inside a shallow pool or body of water, promoting circulation while decreasing swelling and joint stiffness. A cool down also allows you to consolidate all of the new skills, techniques and knowledge learned that day, leading to better retention.

Overtraining

One overlooked form of injury is overtraining. It can be easy to get caught up with training, especially leading up to a bout. It's important to remember that overtraining has many physical consequences that will set you back enough to completely negate any benefits from the extra hours put in. Remember: your workouts are breaking down your body, leading it to become stronger once it has recovered. By not giving your body a chance to recover, it will lead to exhaustion.

Recovery

When an injury occurs, it is important to treat it correctly, if you want to recover as soon as possible. The moment an injury is sustained, it is important to prevent any further damage, by ceasing physical activity and getting the proper medical care. Don't forget RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. While it may be tempting to jump back into training, resist the urge, as there's a high chance you'll re-aggravate the injury and cause more time out of the gym. If you have something important to prepare for, use visualization techniques to not only improve your training but also to aid in recovery.

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