Martial Arts: The Journey Versus the Body
The following is a guest post.
Training in any martial art is not a sprint, it takes time and patience to learn the proper forms, stances, and techniques. You may think of the martial arts figuratively as more of a marathon, and you are most likely correct. Considering the amount of time and hard work involved in learning a single martial art, not to mention multiple martial arts, it takes some serious commitment. Training is tough on the whole body so appropriate safety and recovery methods should always be implemented.
The Mental Journey
Maybe you started martial arts because you wanted to learn how to defend yourself, or you wanted to compete in tournaments, to get into better physical shape, or possibly because you wanted a new challenge. Regardless of why you started, remember that to learn the right way to do something more often than not you will have to do it the wrong way first. Training can be a good time to try and open your mind to learning new stances and skills, it will also be a place to discover things about yourself. Also, during this time you could learn qualities like patience and anger management, often without even realizing that you are learning them. Your entire experience with martial arts training can be an amazing journey if you allow it to be.
The Physical Journey
Training in martial arts is going to be quite physical, no way around that. You are more than likely going to experience some cuts here, a few scrapes there, and presumably a good bit of bruising in general. When you spar, in all likelihood you will get hit in the face and other vulnerable areas of your body such as the ribs. This is why you will almost always wear protective sparring gear during intense matches.
While practicing and/or sparring it is possible for you to sustain severe or long-term types of injuries. The more susceptible parts of your body to these types of injuries are your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and your joints. Your knees can become especially at risk for serious injury due to their function and where they are located.
Train Through the Pain?
It will be common to have aches and pains when you are actively training in martial arts of any kind, due to the physicality of what you are doing with your body. If you notice a slight twinge in one of your joints or muscles, think twice before continuing with that day’s session. If you do have damage to part of your body such as the knee, then pushing through an exercise could potentially make the irritation much more severe. More often than not the best practice is not to train through the pain, but rather to avoid further damage. Seek advice from your physician any time that you suffer a serious injury.
Knee Injuries and Martial Arts
Your knees handle a large amount of stress during simple day-to-day activities because they support your entire body weight with each step. Practicing martial arts is going to put even more strain on that particular joint. You could accidentally hyperextend your knee during motions like roundhouse kicks or flying kicks for example. If not done with the correct form those same motions also have the potential to damage or even tear ligaments in your knee.
One method that is commonly used throughout the athletic community for treating joint and/or muscle wounds is the R.I.C.E method. This consists of rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation. Rest to allow the damaged tissue time to start the healing process, ice for swelling and pain, compression to aid in blood flow and speed up recovery, and elevation to avoid further swelling and irritation. This method might be even more efficient if you have a top compression knee brace to wear throughout the period of recovery.
Listen to Your Body - You Owe it to Yourself
Participating in martial arts can be difficult all together but it can also be very taxing on you mentally as well as physically. Try to focus on the journey in its entirety, and not just that moment where you made a mistake or got taken down during a sparring session. When you fall to the mat, and you will, try to remind yourself that it is okay to make mistakes. Sparring is usually less about winning and more about learning.
Pay attention to your body. When you feel like you can push yourself a little further then go for it. However, if you feel tired or exhausted you should most likely rest. Your body is your individual temple. It is your means of expression, and yours alone, so take care of it and listen to what it's telling you.