If you’re involved in combat sports it’s a fact that you increase your likelihood of injury or muscle pain and tension just due to being more active and moving and training with other people. However if you don’t do anything you’ll live a shorter and much more boring life. Sports like football produce many more injuries than the combat arts but you’re still likely to get some injuries or pain from what you’re doing. The first thing is to not get any pain you’ve got confused with the lovely ache you get from just training hard. This Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS just means that you’ve been working hard. The best way to get rid of this is to train some more. It’s caused by lactic acid buildup in your muscles and a brief if slightly painful workout will relieve it completely. Drink plenty of water too, it’ll help. If you think it’s serious then go and see a Doctor or for muscles and joints I think an Osteopath is even better. (See the link to our favourite Osteopath Savash at the bottom.) Other than that here goes.
Spice: For those more persistent aches and pains it’s traditionally a simple recipe of rest, ice, compression and elevation for any injuries you’ve got. However, this can limit your training. There are certain things you can do to help. First take a turmeric capsule or two daily or have lots of curries as the spice turmeric is a hugely effective anti inflammatory and a key element in most curries. It’s available from Holland and Barrett and other health stores or maybe in your spice cupboard. Watch the pain subside.
Mobilise: Pain in the back and shoulders and other specific parts of the body can often be improved by mobilising all the other parts of the body. The mobility exercises I do at the beginning of many classes are an example of this. If you think of increasing the points within your body where movement can happen or the range of movement can be increased then you put less pressure on the part that’s hurting. Like a seized up bike chain where only two or three links move you need to add some oil to all the other joints so that there’s less pressure on the painful bits.
Traction: Traction and stretching will help the shoulders and arms and the legs though it’s harder with the legs. Just hanging from a bannister or closed door handle and letting your body and arm change angle you can feel your body being stretched out. Move the hands and fingers( don’t let go) and rotate the shoulder and move the head around. Also change your body angle too. This works wonders for the tension build up that sometimes happens after hard training. Get someone to gently pull and traction your legs after training and see how it relaxes your body down. Sort of anti gravity at work. Also hang from a closed door handle and squat let your body hang from your arms, align the head with the arms and feel the stretch throughout your whole body.
Open: Opening the front of the chest is important for combat athletes where much of what we do makes us go into a foetal position protecting our centre. After training make sure you do some back bends and opening your body like doing back stroke swimming in the pool. Simple yet effective. If you have a swiss ball then backbend over that and feel your body open up and shoulders go back. Alternatively put your arms either side of a door frame and lean into the opening making sure you stretch the chest muscles not the shoulder joint. Also take care to open up the top front of the chest and not hyper-extend (bend backwards) the lower back. Keep your tail turned under and core engaged. This is something sometimes hard to differentiate.
Water: Water is very effective in reducing inflammation. Drink lots of water. lots. It’s unlikely you’ll drink too much but be sensible. However most of us drink too little water. Doctors say there’s no difference between coffee and tea etc and water but as a long time pain sufferer drinking water helps more in my opinion and you know I love my tea. If you’ve drunk enough then contemplate cold baths or contrast showering where you do alternate hot and cold on an injured part. You’re getting blood flow to move inflammatory agents away from the injury site and into your blood stream. If you get migraine headaches then try drinking much more water and when a headache comes put your feet in cold water. It really helps and it’s all about changing blood flow.
Breathe: Lastly lets look at breath. Changing how you breathe can radically reduce pain by changing the acid / alkali PH balance within your blood. It really works wonders. Method: Breath in through your nose naturally then wait a second then breath out slowly through pursed lips. Take at least three times as long to breath out as you breath in. Wait a second then breathe in and repeat the cycle. Do this for about five minutes and you’ll feel your body relax. I often do this when driving back from a hard session. Less stress on my body and I’m breaking the cycle of tension that pain ofttimes brings.
There’s a lot here but if you take the turmeric. Do dally mobility (not much just a bit) Drink more water and look at the cold option plus keep your body open and aligned properly you’ll be in less pain. If it’s bad try the breathing. Good luck.
Savash Mustafa: SavashM@btinternet.com 07976-722970 (text only please)