On November 20, 2018, the Ultimate
Fighting Championship, or UFC as it is more commonly known, revealed that,
in 2019, it plans to build a 93,000 square foot, $13 million mixed martial arts
training and development center in Shanghai, China.
Though martial arts are often associated with Asian
cultures, the San
Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA) explains that this
sport, in one form or another, has historical origins in any other regions
around the world.
Martial arts’ worldwide origins
For instance, France is known for developing savate, a
martial arts kicking style initially created by sailors and street fighters.
You can also find it in Brazil, the area of the world credited with developing
Capoeira, a form of martial arts that Capoeira Brasil
says “is a fight, it is a dance, a game.”
The SDSCPA adds that martial arts appears in the early Americas
as well, with Native Americans known for their long-term practice of open-handed
martial arts and Hawaiians historically practicing martial arts “featuring
small and large joint manipulation.”
While this form of sport has a long and geographically varied
history, it is still practiced widely today as Statista
reports that approximately 3.42 million Americans six years of age and up currently
participate in some form of martial arts. This puts a number of them at risk
for certain injuries.
Common martial arts injuries and their prevalence
According to research
published in Pediatrics involving
128,400 children and teens 17-years-old and younger, some of the most common
martial arts injuries include abrasions, contusions, sprains, and strains.
Although less common, martial arts participants can also suffer from fractures,
concussions, neck injuries, and dental injuries.
Another study, this one
released in September of 2018 by the Journal
of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, involved 130 martial artists, all
of whom practiced either judo, karate, kung fu, Thai boxing, or aikido. Of
these, more than one in four (27 percent) suffered an acute lower limb injury
at some point during the previous year and one in five (19.2 percent) reported
experiencing a lower limb injury as a result of overuse during that same
This second study’s authors suggested that this data be used
by trainers to develop injury prevention programs for this demographic. However,
it can also be used by doctors of chiropractic to treat some of these more common
martial arts injuries.
Chiropractic treatments effective for martial arts injuries
For example, research has found that chiropractic is helpful
when treating ankle sprains. The Journal
of Chiropractic Medicine published one such study
involving two teens with chronic, recurrent inversion sprains due to
participation in sports. After receiving high velocity, low amplitude
manipulative therapy to their spines, pelvis, and extremity joints—with a focus
on the ankle—“abrupt resolution” of this issue was achieved.
Chiropractic can also help in cases where the martial artist suffers from neck pain as one systematic literature review of 41 randomized controlled trials reports that chiropractic care helps improve treatment outcomes for individuals who are dealing with both acute and chronic neck pain.
Understanding the martial artists’ needs
The British Journal of Sports Medicine
adds that, when treating martial artists, it is also important to “understand
the needs of the sport and its culture.” For example, this involves realizing
that, unlike many other sports, these particular athletes don’t have an off
season in which they can use down time to fully recover.
For this reason, effectively treating a martial arts
practitioner requires coming up with a plan that enables the athlete to return
to practice as soon as possible without exacerbating the injury. It also
involves working with him or her to develop a treatment and maintenance plan
that adequately deals with the high likelihood of overuse.
Dealing with overuse
of California (UC), Davis indicates that addressing the overuse issue in
children and teens specifically includes limiting the amount of time they
engage in repetitive sports like martial arts. Additionally, the intensity and
amount of time spent practicing should only be increased by 10 percent per week
to give the child’s body time to adapt.
Other suggestions UC Davis provides for avoiding overuse
issues are constantly surveilling for injuries, performing comprehensive
pre-participation physical exams, encouraging participation in more than just
one sport, taking at least one day off per week, and adequately preparing with