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It’s been a challenging few months for staying active. We saw the closures of our favourite Hamilton gyms, dojos, studios, trails, and outdoor workout spots. Many people are anticipating the imminent opening of gyms and workout spaces. However, for martial artists, especially in grappling and close combat sports the wait may be a bit longer. 

Having competed in martial arts for many years and being sidelined by injury, I know what it’s like to sit on the sidelines. Here are some tips I’ve gathered from personal experience as a fighter and physiotherapist as well as from the scientific evidence about staying in fighting shape and mitigating injury risk during downtime.

  1. Go back to the basics.
    We all remember our first day of training. For many people so used to the strict movement patterns of weightlifting, or other sports, being asked to contort into different positions seemed insurmountable. As we advance in our techniques and combat sport vocabulary we take the basics for granted. But even the strongest buildings need foundation work now and again. Now is the time to go back to those early movements: bridging, shrimping, rolling, bear crawls, crab walks, and any other weak links that need work. For striking sports it would be basic kicks, stances, and movement patterns.
  2. Train both strength and muscular endurance.
    These two systems are very important in a well rounded combat athlete. If you don’t have the strength to push your opponent off of you, or if you don’t have the muscular endurance to hold onto a submission it’s tough to make any headway. Strength is trained at lower reps, higher rest, and higher weight (think squats and deadlifts) while muscular endurance is trained with higher reps and lower rest between sets (think sprinting, jumping etc). Now is a great time to work on muscular endurance. Find a field, get to the stairs and put the work in.

    In addition to becoming a better fighter, training those two energy systems are important when preventing injury. Which brings us to our very important third point:
  1. Train at end range.
    Injuries are a part of combat sports. By its very nature a submission is designed to force your partner to ‘tap out’ in order to prevent themselves from sustaining injury. While no injury is 100% preventable, we can increase our resilience and ability to control vulnerable positions.

    Many grappling injuries happen when joints are taken to their end ranges. When you’re strength training, it’s important to make sure you are working a full range of motion, especially those extreme ranges where injuries can happen. When you’re strengthening, completely straighten out your knees at the top of a squat, Work your shoulder at its most vulnerable point (90 degrees of abduction and external rotation.) If you have strong dynamic structures (muscles) supporting the passive joint structure (ligaments), it will help mitigate the most common grappling injuries. Most of us are not strong in these positions so take it slow and build the strength over time.
  1. Focus on recovery.
    We all feel like we’ve been in a constant state of recovery over the past months. But resting on the couch with a bag of chips until 2 am while watching the latest episode of your favourite Netflix show isn’t true recovery.

    When we talk about injury rehabilitation at Revive, we spend a lot of time focusing on what happens outside of training sessions. Many injuries aren’t as much a result of training stress as they are poor recovery from training stress. Remember, exercise is (positive) stress we put on our bodies, how we adapt and grow depends on how we recover.

    Take this time to focus on creating a positive routine around the important elements of recovery. Good sleep hygiene, good nutrition, and good stress management. If you have these pieces in place you’ll be amazed at how well you perform when you return.
  1. Remember why you started.
    Burnout and low motivation don’t just happen when you’ve done too much of something. Not having the social aspect of training, not competing and training at home without direction can all lead to low motivation and burnout. Take some time to remember why you started training. Watch some videos online, read some books (A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan is my personal favourite).

If you have any questions, have an injury that needs attention, or want to learn more about injury prevention, motivation and recovery, drop us a line at 289-941-4878 (text works too!) or book online at www.hamontphysio.ca