If you participate in just about any activity long enough, you are bound to develop some form of mild to moderate pain or injury. The physical nature of martial arts makes this reality all the more likely. It generally starts with a little soreness or tightness in a joint or muscle, and if left untreated it can develop into a nagging injury that limits our performance or even participation in martial arts. Some of these injuries can even lead to irreparable damage to our bodies.
A key component to being a successful martial artist is knowing the limitation of our own bodies, whether that is with a particular technique on the mat or knowing when we have an injury that needs to be addressed. Our bodies produce pain as an indicator that something is wrong. Just how wrong is often a function of the level of pain we experience. When we experience low to moderate pain, it’s like our bodies are telling us to tend to the matter before it becomes a serious issue.
At the first sign of pain we need to stop what we are doing, attempt to determine the likely cause, treat and then rehabilitate the injury. Often we try to push through the pain, underestimate the severity of the injury or fail to provide adequate recovery time. Most mild to moderate injuries can be treated with simple rest, ice/heat, stretching or through the use of anti-inflammatory medication. It has been my experience that most people the biggest issue sticking to the rest portion of that formula. If you truly enjoy whatever activity in which you were injured, you don’t generally like not participating in it. Rest does not always mean “do nothing” when it comes to mild to moderate injuries. It really means “don’t do anything that hurts”.
A pulled muscle or sprained joint doesn’t necessarily exclude you from getting on the mat and being active. In fact, light motion can often aid in your recovery by keeping you flexible, keeping you engaged in your chosen activity and keeping your morale up. If you have a mild to moderate injury and you are unsure if you should continue with even light training, ask your instructor. If they think there is even the slightest risk of further injury they will not let you train and will most likely suggest that you seek professional medical advice. If they believe that you can train, they will set limitations for you, pair you up with a partner that knows your limitations and continue to monitor your status throughout the class.
We all like to train, but we all have to train safe and train smart.
Instructor William Green
Elite Training Center
1628 South Pacific Coast Highway,
Redondo Beach, CA 90277