List of Potential Martial Arts Injuries
Unfortunately, during martial arts training, people do get hurt. Here are descriptions of some potential martial arts injuries. To reduce the potential for many of these injuries, martial artists should always stretch and warm-up before any martial arts training. Many experts also recommend stretching after a workout. In addition, martial arts students should wear the proper protective gear (i.e. mouth guard) and learn from a qualified martial arts instructor who is focused on safety.
Common martial arts injuries tend to be bruises, cuts, scrapes, pulled muscles and sprains. However, there is always the chance of a more serious injury given the physical nature of martial arts training and sparring. This site does not provide medical advice. If you get hurt or are in pain, please see a doctor!!! It is very difficult to self-diagnosis. You should always have a medical professional examine any injury.
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- ACL Damage – Martial artists can suffer a sprain or tear to their ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament). The ACL is a knee ligament.
- Achilles Tendon Injuries – The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. This tendon can be strained or torn during martial arts training. The potential for this type of injury can be partially reduced with Achilles stretches.
- Ankle Sprains
- Back Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Bruises – A bruise is discolored skin caused by a blow that has ruptured the underlying blood vessels. If you participate in martial arts training, you are likely to get frequent bruises from being hit during sparring, self-defense training, etc.
- Cauliflower Ear – A cauliflower ear can result from repeated damage to an ear. Often associated with grappling martial arts and martial arts such as boxing (where boxers can suffer repeated punches to their ears).
- Choking – Submission techniques (i.e. Rear Naked Choke) must be monitored carefully by instructors because students can suffer accidental choking injuries.
- Concussion – A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. According to the Mayo Clinic, concussions can cause “headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination”. Martial artists can suffer concussions during training due to strikes to the head, being thrown and hitting their head on the ground, etc.
- Cramp – A cramp is a painful involuntary contraction of a muscle (i.e. foot cramp). During martial arts training, cramps can be caused by the lack of hydration, muscle fatigue, insufficient stretching, potassium deficiency, etc.
- Cuts & Scrapes – Martial arts students should keep their fingernails trimmed in order to avoid accidentally cutting their fellow students.
- Dehydration – The lack of adequate liquid intake during vigorous athletic activity can lead to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, etc.
- Dislocated Joints – Martial arts students can suffer dislocated fingers, dislocated shoulders, etc. during sparring, training, etc.
- Ear Injuries (i.e. Cauliflower Ears) – Martial artists often wear ear guards while wrestling & grappling in order to avoid cauliflower ears and other potential ear injuries.
- Elbow Dislocation
- Eye Injuries (i.e. Eye Poke, Black Eye, etc.)
- Finger Injuries – Fingers can be jammed or broken during training from errant punches or hand techniques. Martial arts students should wear martial arts gloves during training.
- Groin Injuries – Martial arts students should wear groin protectors during martial arts training.
- Groin Strains – Martial arts students can pull or tear a groin muscle during training. The potential for this type of injury can be partially reduced with groin stretches.
- Hamstring Injuries – Martial arts students can pull or tear a hamstring while performing high kicks (i.e. axe kicks), sparring, etc. The potential for this type of injury can be partially reduced with hamstring stretches.
- Heart Attack
- Hyperextension Injuries – This type of injury occurs when a joint moves beyond its natural range of motion. In martial arts, this can occur when landing incorrectly after a flying kick, etc.
- Meniscus Tear – Given the twisting and spinning in martial arts training, it is possible to tear the meniscus pad in your knee.
- Muscle Tears (i.e. Torn Calf Muscle)
- Nose Injuries (i.e. Broken Nose, Bloody Nose, etc.)
- Patellofemoral Syndrome
- Plantar Fasciitis – Plantar Fasciitis is a painful foot condition caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot. Planta fasciitis pain is often felt in the heel of the foot. The potential for this type of injury can be partially reduced with Plantar Fasciitis stretches.
- Shin Splint
- Shoulder Dislocation
- Shoulder Injuries (i.e. Rotor Cuff Tear)
- Skin Infections – Given the close contact involved with many grappling martial arts, it is easy to get skin infections. Students must be advised to adequately clean themselves and their equipment before and after training.
- Sprains (i.e. Ankle Sprain)
- Throat Injuries – Martial arts students can be hit in the throat by a punch or kick. This is why instructors teach students to tuck their chin during sparring.
- Toe Injuries – Many martial artists wear martial arts shoes (if they are allowed by their school/style) in order to protect their toes during training.
- Tooth Damage (Chipped, Knocked Out, etc.) – Many martial arts schools recommend that students wear a mouth guard when practicing even basic martial arts techniques.
- Mayo Clinic, Concussion, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/basics/definition/con-20019272
- WebMD, The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries, http://www.webmd.com/men/features/seven-most-common-sports-injuries#1
- US Government’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Handout on Health: Sports Injuries, https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp