Being part of any competitive martial arts club is tough and challenging, placing a toll on your body that you may not experience in other sports. It's therefore imperative that you look after yourself, and ensure that your joints, tendons and muscles are well catered for. Often larger clubs will have in-house physios who are on hand to offer advice and support. However, if not, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against injury when training on a daily basis,
Having a physio in-house is one of the perks of competing with a higher level martial arts club. If you ever get referred to them it's important to understand what to expect, as it may differ from the relaxing massage you might expect. Sports massages can be at times a little painful, however this is because the physiotherapist needs to massage deep lying muscles and break up scar tissue that can form from injuries. This shouldn't cause concern, as this approach will help increase flexibility which can then be supplemented with adequate warm ups, cool downs and foam rollers.
Warming up and cooling down are some of the most important aspects of the workout. Using dynamic warm-ups for mobility will help to loosen the joints with a substance called synovial fluid. It acts as a lubricant and encourages smooth movement around joint sockets and can prevent inflammation. Static stretching is best left after you finish, as it can actually have a detrimental effect on your strength performance. The best way to stretch is to reach a point of discomfort and hold the position momentarily, before then increasing the stretch. This helps to trick your muscles, which are designed to retract when they sense over extended range of movement, and allow them to stretch further. If you perform this every day after stretching you'll increase your general flexibility and minimise the risk of muscle tears and strains.
Using a foam roller is another great way to get deep myofascial release in the muscles below the surface of the skin. Foam rollers are cylinders of hard foam that are used to apply pressure to the muscles, primarily in the legs and back, using bodyweight and gentle motion. These are a perfect alternative to a physiotherapist if you find that you can afford them on a regular basis, and can be incorporated into your workout routine at the end, just when you start to stretch off.Share