"Combat athletes" are individuals who compete in close contact sports such as boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts, and Brazilian jiu jitsu. Their sport is dangerous because of direct blunt force traumas to the head and body but also very demanding because of they use of their whole bodies as their 'sports equipment'. Flexibility, strength, stability and endurance are pushed to the maximum with these athletes. The Stride Strong Physical Therapist can be very instrumental in helping them recover from (and prevent) those injuries that can weaken them in a fight.
Most common injuries are a result from overtraining and postural faults during combat moves. Here are a list of common non-traumatic injuries we see from combat athletes:
- Cervical pain from grappling or from postural faults in 'fight stance'
- Shoulder pain from punching
- Hand and wrist strains from missed punches; second highest incidence of injuries in combat athletes at 13.5% of all MMA injuries (highest is facial lacerations)
- Knee pain from kickboxing
- Hip impingement and pain from grappling and kickboxing
- Achilles tendonitis from jumping and training
- Ankle sprains from poor landing or pivoting during kicks
- Jaw injuries and TMJ from being punched
- Elbow injuries as a result of being arm-barred in grappling
Extending the life of the combat athlete's body is key to a fighter's success and career longevity. It is crucially important to make sure every aspect of the body is working efficiently because there is no predicting which body part will be taxed and challenged during a fight. Preventing surgeries is also paramount for continuation of training and preventing the inevitable post-surgical deconditioning that happens, so physical therapy provides an effective alternative to surgery.
Want to get connected to experienced, combat Physical Therapists?
Dr Alice Holland, PT DPT is a 7-year experienced boxer. She has a great amount of understanding of proper form and technique during boxing, and she combines her 12 year+ knowledge of physical rehab with her beloved sport to help her patients improve performance.
James Cavin PT, MSPT was a Division I wrestler for Boston University, where he performed his undergraduate and graduate studies. He currently still competes in Muay Thai and Submission Srappling.
- Noh JW, Park BS, Kim MY, et al. Analysis of combat sports players' injuries according to playing style for sports physiotherapy research. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27:2425-2430.
- Bledsoe GH, Hsu EB, Grabowski JG, et al. Incidence of injury in professional mixed martial arts competitions. J Sports Sci Med. 2006;1(5):136-142.