Spine is considered as a multifaceted pinnacle, around which the body revolves. Its function is of paramount importance for the performance of daily activities and this importance can’t be stressed more in case of martial arts. Balance is the key to any physical movement and the kinetics involved in the execution of a kick, punch or just taking a proper stance are overwhelming. Whole of the movement is executed around the axis of the spine. All throws and grappling take advantage of leverage just by shifting the center of gravity, thereby disturbing the axis of the spine. The physics involved is tremendous and forms the basis of all the techniques taught with respect to grappling.
Coming over to the issues that surround us involving the spine. First and foremost always remember that spine contains a multitude of joints and facets comprising ligaments. It is the “home” or nest for the spinal cord –the connection between the brain and individual organs. It contains the nerve centers responsible for individual involuntary movements. The process of “warming” up, basically tells our body that work is to be done, it essentially sort of “lubricates” the joints and improves the “kinesthetic” or the sense of movement of the different joints. Never indulge in any sport without proper warming up. It’s no different in case of martial arts. Always protect the spine. Always ensure that the movements being executed are according to a text book approach.
This brings us to the important question of,”Is your trainer trained enough?” There is a mushroom growth of MMA clubs across the country, which is in fact a good thing for the sport, but the question remains if whether those entrusted with the training are skilled and educated enough to appreciate the complexities of the human body. Proper and timely execution of movement is very important. Practice a hundred times before actually doing a move. While strength training – it is also imperative that you put the stress on your thighs instead of lifting it by your back, don’t crouch – bend at the knees instead. This takes the stress of the spine.
For tall fighters there is the problem of straining your back. Excessive workout burns you out, so train according to your stamina. Bear one thing in mind, you will achieve excellence in the sport but not in one day so take it easy and just go with the flow, your trainers are there to help you, make the most of it. In case you ever strain your back always seek expert opinion. Simple analgesics or pain killers help but should be taken only after prescription and evaluation by a specialist. Don’t take back ache lightly; it may destroy your career as a MMA fighter as well as your daily performance. So in case of a strain , take break from training and do not get carried away in proving your “macho” image , it can be detrimental to your health in general and spine in particular. Always “cool down” after work out, as this is as important as the warming up.
Play safe, take care!
This article has been written by Dr. Arshad Beg who is a surgical registrar specializing in General Surgery. He works at Liaquat National Hospital Karachi and has a keen interest in MMA.
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