The simple idea of staying injury free has been the objective of sports men and women alike for longer than we can remember. A ‘pop’ is definitely a feeling to avoid, along with knowing how long you need to take off.
The issue here is knowing when an injury has been prevented! There is no warning system that counts all the injuries you’ve avoided. The only way to have any insight is to count the number of injury free days in a row. Similar to a tally for avoided workplace accidents that any health and safety advisor would proudly hang outside their office. An injury avoided can be recognised when you have been injury free for a length of time.
What can we do to stay injury free? Well… ain’t that the question! It’s all about reducing the risk of an injury occurring. I look at the fundamentals of physical health in 3 main areas. I have been trying to add a 4th for over 10 years, but they always fall into one of the existing 3.
Strength breaks down into 2 main areas; the ability for a muscle to produce force from a contraction and a tissue’s resistance to force.
Control is based upon the bodies utilisation of force to perform a particular action. These actions can be very simple to quite complex and can require a number of different muscle contractions to balance during a certain movement. These movements are controlled by the central nervous system and can vary from uncoordinated to efficient.
Mobility relates to tissue pliability and joint range of motion. Interestingly tissue can be stiff but a joint can be quite mobile or appear as having a suitable range.
Considering all three of these areas is the key to reducing the risk of injury. Keeping tissue strong, coordinated and mobile means you will have a low risk of an injury occurring, something we all aim to achieve but can stray from especially when we are feeling good.
In simple terms here’s what to do:
Strength training can be completed in many ways as you will see from every gym you visit. Rather than argue the pros and cons for each let’s just break it down to what is effective. The movement needs to be repeatable, measurable and progressable. Whether it be push ups in a dojo or a chest press machine, make sure you can repeat it, measure your range of movement and make it harder by increasing the resistance.
Kickboxing is very good at training a wide range of movements but like with all sports there are gaps that need to be addressed. These will be specific to each of us depending on your grade and experience.It is also important to exercise each muscle or groups of in a wide range of movement. This will help ensure strength can be applied from a number of different positions in a combination of movements.
Do keep in mind though, The quicker you move a weight, the more momentum is involved in the exercise and therefore the higher risk of injury. It also detracts from quality of the exercise by excessively loading the beginning of the movement compared to the middle and end of the movement; Training needs to be slow and challenging.
Stretching is a much easier concept, but is the most avoided component. It can feel painful and doesn’t yield obvious results quickly. Your sensei can direct you on a range of stretches and in later articles I will share my top stretches for your whole body. However your stretching programme looks, be mindful of the need to be gradual but consistent with stretching tissue and the effects can take some time to appear.
Movement control is one of the most contested areas of the 3 with a range of therapists and trainers claiming rule over the field. Especially with the phrase “Functional” gathering pace in the exercise community it is important to remember the underlying principle of how movements are made more efficient and effective. Simply put… Practice kickboxing… Not something that looks like it!
Having a movement that looks like a kickboxing related movement is not… and I repeat is not the same as kickboxing. The brain remembers the fine detail of movement and will only become more efficient at that movement if repeated. Lifting a kettle bell in a ‘kickboxing like’ punch is different from a front punch; it is not training the brain to become efficient at punching, it’s training it to become better at punching with a kettle bell!. It’s also a poor attempt at strengthening a group of muscles for the reasons above.
I could go into much further detail here but I’m sure I am already stretching your attention span. If you do want to ask more then please get in touch, I’d be happy to discuss this in more detail. For those of you who like it simple do remember:
Strength + Control + Mobility = Low risk of injury.
Be strong and be safe…
Written by Kieran Lowe M.Ost, BSc H SRIP
Principle Osteopath and Sports Rehabilitator at Just one body
This article is based on opinion:
– the author is not a qualified doctor or anyone who can dispense medical advice.
– any opinions stated are just that and people should consult a doctor before making any dietary changes or changes of any nature prompted by the articles published by or on behalf of Xen-Do.
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