Training around injury is one of the most important abilities to have, and it’s something we try to teach all of our students at Combat Kung-Fu. When you engage in any kind of athletic activity, you’re bound to sustain minor injuries like pulled muscles and bruises from time to time. So, it’s important to know how to keep training while at the same time healing up from whatever injury or soreness you experience. The right kind of training can actually help you recover faster than just sitting around waiting for your body to heal up. However, anytime you experience an injury training always consider first whether or not to contact your doctor for advice on how to treat your particular problem. If your injury does not rise to the level of a doctor’s visit, it’s time to consider what you can do to help yourself recover and get back into your training regimen.
First, don’t forget about four of an athlete’s best friends: ice, rest, heat and massage. Ice can help reduce the inflammation and pain that can result from minor pulled muscles and muscle contusions. Applying an ice pack for 30 minutes immediately after sustaining these kinds of minor training injuries can help reduce swelling at the injury site and damage at the cellular level that can lengthen recovery time. Then, after a day or two of icing and resting, and once the initial swelling and pain subside, you can begin to engage in some light stretching and martial arts training activity followed by the application of heat. Using a hot water bottle, hot tub, or heat lamp for 30 minutes after loosening up is a great way to help stimulate blood flow to the injury site and facilitate healing. Then, immediately after that, you can start to lightly massage the injured area to help circulate out damaged tissue and cells. Remember, for best results do these in order: ice, rest, heat, massage.
Once your injury is on the mend, it’s time to gradually increase movement. One of the best solutions for general muscle soreness is stretching and doing slow motion solo techniques practice. Both activities circulate blood throughout your body, helping to remove lactic acid and bring much needed oxygen to sore muscles. Increasing blood circulation accelerates the healing process. Plus, you can get quite a good cardio and leg training workout just from doing slow motion techniques. So, if you are sore, try to do a solo workout in slow motion paying particular attention to good form and deep breathing as you move.
Also, consider where your injury is located. If you have a pulled leg muscle, for example, there is still quite a lot you can do just using your upper body. You may be able to do resistance training like push ups, bench dips, planks, and many other abdominal exercises. You could also just sit in a chair and do many types of blocks and hand strikes at full speed to practice what you might do to defend yourself from a seated position. Similarly, if your upper body has an injury that’s not too serious, consider doing a kicking or stance training workout to make progress with your leg strength while your upper body heals. The important thing is to explore creative ways of continuing your workouts without aggravating the soreness or injury at hand.
Finally, one of my golden rules is: easy does it. Working out should not cause more pain and aggravate an injury. Make sure not to push yourself too soon. If what you are doing is painful, stop and do something else. And if all else fails, it’s probably a sign that you should spend more time icing, resting, heating, and massaging. Remember, getting back on the road to fitness and martial skill depends on balancing light working out with the proper rest and therapeutic treatment.