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Punch Up Your Martial Arts Practice

Follow these steps to avoid injury--while getting kicked, punched, and thrown

ROSEMONT, Ill., Feb. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Whether it's for self-defense, competition, discipline, or just exercise, people are turning to martial arts in increasing numbers. Martial arts can include karate, taekwondo, tai chi, judo, and hapkido, as well as related sports such as kickboxing and capoeira.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons ( (AAOS), martial arts can be a good way to stay active during the cold, winter months. The appeal of these sports is that the focus is not on strength and muscle mass, but rather on balance, flexibility, speed, strength, agility and endurance, making them appropriate for both males and females, young and old.

Therefore, AAOS recommends that martial arts students and their instructors take precautions to minimize the chance of injury.

"Martial arts can be a great way to get some exercise while developing mental discipline," says Joseph Marotta, MD, spokesperson for the AAOS. "These activities require proper conditioning, training and equipment. Martial arts students need expert instruction by qualified teachers. These measures will ensure safety and enjoyment and keep you coming back to learn more."

The Academy offers the following tips to help prevent injuries from martial arts:

  • Consult with a physician before beginning your conditioning to make sure you are ready for intense physical activity.
  • Train under the direction of a martial arts instructor who focuses on form and technique, rather than solely on competitive strategy. These techniques should include the proper way to fall to avoid injury, as well as methods to prevent injuring your partner during practice.
  • Wear the appropriate protective gear for your type of activity; for example, taekwondo, as a full contact sport, requires a head guard, a body protector, forearm and shin guards, and a groin guard.
  • Exercise to strengthen the stabilizer muscles--rotator cuff muscles and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles or groins) and abductors (muscles on the outermost part of the hip), which help to support the back and hips and improve your balance. Also, stretching will help build your flexibility, and cardio can help develop your speed and endurance.
  • Maintain proper breathing techniques when practicing martial arts to avoid injury--breathing out during the contraction portion of any stretching movement, and breathing in during the extension portion of any stretching movement.
  • Do not take part in these or other sports when exhausted or in pain.
  • If you have children who take part in martial arts, make sure they understand that they should not attempt stunts performed by more experienced practitioners, such as breaking boards or bricks by kicking or punching. Also, ensure that they realize that martial arts can be dangerous, and therefore they should be careful of using their techniques on other children outside of their martial arts class.

About AAOS

SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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