Martial Arts - Injuries & Prevention

Martial arts are systems of codified, disciplined practices and traditions of training for combat. They may be studied for various reasons including fitness, self-defense, military combat, sport, mental discipline, building self-confidence, or any combination of the above.

Popular forms of martial arts include Karate, Judo, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Krav Maga among others.

Like any other sport or physical endeavor, there is a risk of injury in martial arts training. However, contrary to common belief, the rate of injury is comparable to other full-contact sports such as football, and wrestling.

Common Injuries

Cuts and bruises

While cuts and bruises are an unavoidable injury in any type of contact sport, they can be largely avoided by wearing the proper safety equipment, and by obeying safety protocol.

It is important to closely monitor, and maintain control over the level of contact and strength used when sparring. Excessive force can lead to unnecessary injury.


Sprains and strains are also among the most common injuries in the martial arts. Strain injuries most commonly occur in the toes, elbows, and ankles.

Ankle sprains are among the most common acute injuries in martial arts.

Many ankle sprains occur when running or kicking on uneven or overly soft flooring, such as worn-out mats, or due to improper weight distribution when kicking.

To help avoid ankle sprains, make sure your training surface is in good condition, and make sure you are standing in a proper and well-balanced stance before performing a kick.

The ligaments of the ankle keep the anklebones and joint in the correct position. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal, unnatural movements- especially exaggerated twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot.

A ligament is a flexible, elastic structure. A healthy ligament usually stretches within its limits, and then returns to a normal position. A sprain occurs when a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its natural range of movement.

A severe sprain can cause actual tearing of the elastic fibers of the ligament.

People who have had an ankle sprain or strain are at further risk while in the recovery stage. In an effort to provide greater support the ankle should be supported with a properly designed shoe and a correctly fitted ankle and foot wrap.

Dr. Roth's Ultimate All-Purpose Wrap is engineered to provide maximum support, compression and comfort. When a strain or injury has occurred and support is required; a wrap that will perform and can be adjusted to the desired tension is an absolute must.

Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fascia is the thick, connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot. It originates at the heel and extends to the base of the toes.

The plantar fascia tightens and stretches each time the foot is used, and is highly prone to overuse- especially if the arch is not supported by proper footwear.

Pain is usually experienced on the inside of the heel and along the arch.

Flat feet, also known as overpronation, are the leading cause of plantar fascitis.

Dr. Roth recommends FABS or MAGFABS to help alleviate Plantar Fasciitis pain caused by pronation.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition caused by the inflammation, and irritation of the Achilles tendon.

The Achilles tendon runs the length of the posterior leg, extending to the heel. The Achilles is key in providing the martial artist with the strength, and resilience necessary to engage in combat and training.

Overtraining is a common cause to Achilles tendonitis in martial artists.

Dr. Roth recommends FABS or MAGFABS to help alleviate pain associated with Achilles tendonitis.

"Jamming" the fingers and toes

Jamming of the fingers and toes generally occurs when throwing a kick or punch incorrectly. A sparring opponent may block the foot or hand directly on the extended toes and fingers.

Hitting a bag improperly and with excessive force is also a common cause.

Executing a technique with proper form is absolutely essential to help prevent injuries but also to perform the technique effectively.

Dislocation of the kneecap

A dislocated patella is a serious, painful, and often debilitating injury of the knee. Dislocation of the kneecap occurs when the patella slides out of alignment with the rest of the knee.

Common causes include poor leg alignment, and lowering to a kneeling position too swiftly, or with excessive force.

Dr. Roth's Ultimate All-Purpose Wrap is engineered to provide the necessary support, compression and comfort to aid in the healing of a serious knee injury.

Risk factors

Some of the factors that can increase your risk of injury include:

Poor technique: Improper form can put unnecessary stresses on joints, muscles and ligaments.

Excessive force - Failing to properly pull a blow, such as a punch of kick, can inflict unnecessary injury on an opponent.

Inexperience - Beginners are more likely be injured, because their bodies many not be fully conditioned to meet the demands of the sport.

Overtraining - Training too hard, and too often can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries.

Injury Self-Care

R.I.C.E. is a simple, and effective self-care measure that can be used to treat minor strain, and sprain injuries.

Instructions for R.I.C.E.

Rest the injured limb. Rest is a key part of repair. Without rest, continual strain is placed on the area, leading to increased inflammation, pain, and possible further injury.

Ice the affected area. A good method is ice every 20 minutes of each hour, for a 24-48 hour period. To prevent blood supply restriction to the skin, it is recommended that the ice be placed within a towel before wrapping around the area.

Compress the area with a wrap, or bandage. Compression aims to reduce the swelling that results from the inflammation.

Elevate the injured limb, if possible, to limit swelling.

Injury prevention

Warming up properly is the first line of defense in preventing most common injuries. Taking simple precautions can help reduce the risk of injury and keep you training towards your goals.

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