INJURY-Proof Your Fighting Body
Train Like A Madman & Stay In The Game
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin
What good is a Ferrari without the tires?
That is the essence of being injured: to be sidelined, sitting on the bench — useless.
To make matters worse, in a moments of temptation, an injured fighter attempting to train will almost certainly find the injury boulder rolling back down the hill to squish them. Back to square one. “What harm could have come of some light sparring to see where I am on the recovery spectrum?” A lot, evidently.
Being injured is as great a drain mentally as it is physically. The progress one has made depletes steadily, and the progress you were making now needs rebuilding. All that time spent, all that energy exhausted — and for what? The fighter finds himself stepping in the same footprints he made months before. Chasing tails is what the injured life is all about.
The goal here is to help develop body awareness as it relates to training by introducing the principles of conditioning programs and the 80/20 of pre-hab (injury proofing exercises; think re-hab but with “prevention” in mind instead of “curing.”)
Principles of Conditioning
What defines a good strength and conditioning program?
Is it whatever gets one stronger? Faster? Gives greater endurance? Allows for more technical applications?
No. The best strength and conditioning program is what allows a fighter to keep training.
Injuries are always untimely. The human body has a system developed to tell us when something is wrong but it’s an inefficient tool. The system is pain. However, pain is a lagging indicator, meaning it call only tell us that damage has been done, and not that it will be done, nor does it leave any prescription for a remedy.
But hey, good news! Despite the body having zero injury diagnostic tools built into it, there are exercises we can use to measure mobility and detect imbalance, the latter being the primary cause of injury.
Benefits of Feedback
Follow one simple principle and you’ll remain in the ring and away from the sidelines: feedback.
The benefits of feedback are many-fold: it brings to our attention specific needs, allows us to make adjustments along the way, and sustains our interest by providing a measurement of our progress.
The application of feedback is simple, in method and explanation: it’s information relating to general status of the body. “How am I doing?”
For example, testing in schools is a form of feedback that can tell the students what they know/don’t know, and which study methods are working/not working. In the same fashion, there are certain diagnostic tools in athletics that measure muscle imbalances and thus injury potential. This is what a good strength and conditioning program should have.
In the words of the master of injury prevention, Gray Cook:
Good training is about implementing effective assessment strategies and being in touch with specific needs at every stage of physical development. Conditioning decisions should not be made on a whim. Nor should exercises be randomly deleted just because they don’t result in immediately perceptible benefits. (Cook vii)
A proper program implements diagnostic tools and provides you with the tools, or at least the direction, to solve problems and detect potential injuries. Speaking of which…
80/20 of Pre-Hab
Cook implements a system called the Functional Movement Screen. It’s based on the premise that “functional movement for all sport is built on the foundation of the ability to simply move without restrictions or limitation.”
The below are self-assessment exercises that one would use to measure muscle imbalances, the primary causes of injuries. Each movement is designed to expose a left/right or upper/lower body imbalance. It’ll be judged by your tilting in any direction and your ability to successfully perform the movement.
#1: Deep Squat
#2: Hurdle Step
#3: In-Line Lunge
#4: Active Straight Leg Raise
#5: Seated Rotation
There you have it: a simple introduction to injury prevention. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Gray Cook’s Athletic Body In Balance for a deeper understanding of each movement’s meaning.
The principles are taught and the tools are laid out, now it’s up to you to decide your fate. Stay safe, stay strong!
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