Despite taking care to enact proper form and technique when practicing martial arts, injuries will happen in a student’s journey. When the situation arises, proper post-injury care is crucial. If injuries are left untended and an injured student continues to practice with pain, there can be permanent damage to his or her body. While there’s an age-old mantra of working through the pain, you must take the time to recover when something happens on the mat.
Here are five post-injury care tips that will help get your body ready for martial arts again.
Do Not Ignore Your Injury
If something in your body hurts, don’t ignore it! One of the worst things you can do is continue training, without identifying the cause of the pain; “sucking it up” and pushing your body further could cause even more harm to your body. Without giving yourself an initial rest period, it’s possible that you can worsen the injury or create new ones. Listen to your body and stop the moment something feels wrong.
Get Help from a Professional
When it comes to an injury, it’s important to identify exactly what went wrong, instead of making assumptions. This will allow you to take care of your body appropriately, instead of just going on guesswork or anecdotal advice. A medical professional, such as a sports doctor or physiotherapist, can determine the source of pain, and help you formulate a plan for rehabilitation and recovery.
Do the Homework
Once your healthcare professional identifies and treats your injury, they’ll likely prescribe targeted exercises and stretches that will help you heal. Not taking the time to do your rehab homework is a common mistake. Patience is key and, while some of the exercises may seem like they aren’t working, they’re important for making gradual improvements. With that said, if you feel like your body isn’t fit to perform some of the exercises, speak to your doctor or physiotherapist to find out how they can be modified to accommodate your injury.
While it may seem counterintuitive at first, inactivity could also prevent or slow down your recovery. Certain injuries do require you to continue training to foster rehabilitation. Inactivity can lead your body to become tight and stiff, and potentially exacerbate the issue. However, this will largely depend on what type of injury you’ve sustained. The most common types of injuries in martial arts affect the knee, shoulder, ankle, and hands (in particular, due to striking). Consult a medical professional to find out if adopting a gentler form of exercise or continuing your practice with decreased intensity is recommended.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
The time required for an injury to heal is non-negotiable. Though sometimes it can feel like it’s taking far too long for your body to be at one hundred percent, giving your body this time will help you come back stronger. And if your martial arts teacher asks you to take time off, take that advice to heart. Consider this a temporary set back that will help your injury fade.
Dealing with an injury is never easy, especially when it means taking time off from your martial arts training. By following these tips for post-injury care, you’ll be able to resume training faster than you think. We hope to see you back on the mat soon!