Mind Body Spirit Martial Arts
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Martial Arts First Aid:

MusculoSkeletal / Joints

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After exercising or working out, pain in your achilles tendon(s) may become localized along the tendon (along the heel) for several hours. The pain can become quite severe. There may be stiffness of the lower leg after exercise. The area may also be swollen with a thickening around the tendon. The area may feel warm and become tender or painful to the touch. There may be tightness and pain of the tendon, especially when walking or moving the ankle, or when rising or pushing off the toes. Your range of motion may also be limited.

An ankle injury usually involves a sudden, unexpected loss of balance, resulting in a sharp twist of the ankle. The ankle supports the entire weight of the body, especially standing on one foot during a martial arts technique. This makes the ankle susceptible to sprains, strains, contusions, dislocations and fractures. Like the wrist, the ankle is narrow compared to the rest of the body and are subjected to extreme pressure and stress.

Twenty-six bones make up the structure of the foot, and it is one of the most complex parts of the body. The arch of the foot is susceptible to injuries due to its limited movement and the demands placed on it. The arch has numerous ligaments, tendons, joints and muscles, which are at risk of stress and injury.

Martial art injuries relating to the neck may result in twisting of the neck beyond its range of motion (caused by excessive force), excessive pressure applied to the neck during chokes, strangles, headlocks, grappling, and improper landing when falling on the neck or back area. There is very little an instructor can do if there is a back injury, mainly because it requires medical professionals. If there is no improvement, the student's condition worsens, or if their pain becomes stronger, call 911 as well as the student's guardian(s) or relatives.

The shoulder joint contains eight bursa sacs and is the joint most commonly affected by bursitis. The student who has bursitis should avoid excessive physical stress on problem area, and refrain from repetitive movements. Women tend to suffer from bursitis more than men, due to the sloping of their shoulders, causing increased pressure on the bursa sacs.

Children under five years of age are subject to elbow dislocations if the arm below the elbow is yanked, jerked, or pulled with excessive speed or force. Joint dislocations of the neck, spine, or hip, or dislocations are evidence of a serious injury. Causes of a dislocation are: 1) exceeding the normal range of motion of a joint 2) a violent movement that exceeds the joint's capacity 3) previous injury (such as a fracture or dislocation) of the joint 4) over-stressing the join 5) twisting or over-rotating a joint 6) excessive or violent blow to the joint 7) strong pulling on a joint 8) falling.

The human bone, when placed under stress, will bend slightly rather than snap to absorb the shock. Once the stress is released, the bone will re-coil back to its normal shape. When a force of energy (lateral force, twisting stress, or a powerful impact) is exerted against the bone, and it is greater than the structure of the bone can withstand, a fracture will occur.

Young children entering a martial arts class should be watched carefully. They should avoid applying excessive pressure or performing continuous or repetitive joint movements that, over time, may damage their shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. An experienced instructor will focus more on the child's ability to learn motor control techniques, exercises, stretching and other movements than practicing repetitive movements.

This disease is when adolescents experience growing pains in the knees. It is common in physically active teens and pre-teens to experience a rapid bone growth period, particularly among boys between the ages of thirteen to sixteen, and girls ten to fifteen (approximately). The condition may be aggravated when a martial arts student does repetitive jumps, squats, kicks, or any forced resistance movement that causes stress to the lower leg area. These growing pains generally last about one to three years and usually resolve on their own. During this period, the student should be treated by a physician who can prescribe medication, therapy and/or exercises to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort.

A heel spur is an abnormal bony calcium deposits that protrude from the underside portion of the heel bone. The inflammation or pain caused by heel spurs may cause the student to change the way he/she walks, runs, or participates in the martial arts or other activities. Avoid applying pressure or weight on the heel spur, otherwise he or she may alter his/her movements, possibility resulting in additional problems of the knee, hip and/or back.

When the finger is jammed, the pain is felt immediately. The student will tend to grab and protect the injured finger with the opposite hand. They may lean forward to physically protect the surrounding area. The finger or fingers will start swelling shortly after the injury. Pain and discoloration will be evident. As the finger joint cools, the pain will increase. The instructor should have the injured student immediately stop all activity.

Due to the complexity of the knee joint, there is a wide variety of injuries and problems that can cause knee pain. The knee joint bears a great deal of stress from hard physical martial arts activity. Being overweight or stressing the knee joint over a lifetime may also cause damage to the knee joint(s) and surrounding area.

In the martial arts, speed and power are sometimes required to perform a technique. As a result, a muscle may contract so forcefully and rapidly that it strains its antagonist paired muscle called a muscle strain, also called a pulled muscle. A strain is a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon. Similarly, a sprain is an injury to a ligament, such as when you sprain your ankle, not to be confused with a strain which is a muscle injury.

Shin splints are very common and result in overuse or over abundance of physical activity such as constant running. Pain from shin splints is caused by inflammation of the tendons along the shin, usually halfway between the knee and the ankle. The tibia (shin bone) is a chronic pain area of shin splints and may hurt during exercising or working out in the martial arts. Shin splints are annoying, frustrating and painful, and will continue until proper action is taken to resolve the problem. Usually, rest is required. Be sure your calcium intake is sufficient.

Tendonitis is the degeneration (weakening) of the tendon with inflammation. In the martial arts, if a student continuously practices techniques or movements improperly, injuries can occur to the tendons. Constant repetition or incorrect movements can cause increased injury to the tendons before they are allowed to heal properly.