If you take part in high impact sports the chances are that you will get injured at some point. Left untreated, even small niggles can turn into big problems that hinder your training and may even cause you to have to give up the sport you love. For real sportsmen & women, this is more than frustrating, it can be heartbreaking.
To better understand the challenges that my some of my martial artist patients face I participated in a Total Krav Maga class last week in Ealing. Thank you to Nick Maison, the instructor, and his students who made me feel so welcome.
Wow, those guys really train hard! Even holding onto the shield as it was punched and kicked took all my strength. I felt the impact resonate through every fibre of my body. Days later, I could still feel the ache in my arms. I was reminded how important it was to look after oneself when taking part in such activities.
Any hard impact will cause obstructions within the body. Even micro trauma, such as redness and bruising (caused by structural damage to capilleries) means that energetic flow is impeded in that area. If left untreated, an area of stagnation can develop, leading to pain and restriction of movement.
So what can martial artists and other sportspeople do to avoid injury? I always recommend to my sporting patients that they take up another, softer practice to balance high impact activity. The goal is to develop the free flow of qi (energy) through the body. Good qi flow helps to prevent areas of stagnation developing. Blood and nutrients flow freely to damaged cells, enabling structural repair and breaking down scar tissue.
In Chinese philosophy terms, the yin (flow of soft, internal energy) balances the yang (explosion of hard, external energy).
For martial artists, tai chi is ideal. As a martial art itself, tai qi enables you to develop a deeper understanding of your own martial art whilst learning to direct your internal energy. Like yoga and qi gong, it focuses on the breath and develops awareness of qi.
Not all tai chi, yoga and qi gong classes concentrate on breathing and the internal aspects of the art, focusing instead on the external ‘moves’ so it becomes just another exercise. From my own experience, I can thoroughly recommend the Shaolin Wahnam Institute for qi gong and tai chi instruction.
Of course, another excellent way to prevent and deal with injury is to have regular acupuncture and massage, or at the very least to have treatment at the first sign of injury. At Ealing Acupuncture & Massage we offer a free consultation for you to discuss any issues you may have.
I’ll blog further with tips on mindful breathing to develop qi flow so watch this space. Please feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer!