Martial arts are a fun way for athletes of all ages to develop their mental and physical conditioning. Before enrolling, you should learn about the general risks involved with each specific martial art form (kung fu, taekwondo, judo, etc.), as certain forms are not suited for all athletes. All forms have some risk of injury, including bone, joint, and muscle injuries, such as strains, fractures, sprains, and dislocations as well as head injuries and minor injuries, like cuts and bruising.
Regardless of the martial art form, athletes and parents should be aware of how to help prevent common injuries:
- Have a pre-participation exam or physical to get medical clearance before engaging in martial arts to help determine if it is safe for you to pursue the sport of your choice.
- Be sure to properly warm up and cool down before and after a class or competition. Your instructor will likely provide the guidance you need.
- Especially if you are taking a virtual course, make sure you are practicing in a clear, well-lit, and padded area.
- When practicing with others, be a safe distance apart to avoid collisions. You should also keep a large area cleared if you are in a virtual course, and make sure members of your household stay out of your practice area.
- A well-padded area should help prevent most serious head and face injuries; however, wearing the proper safety equipment for the martial art form is absolutely necessary, such as headgear and mouth guards.
- Closely following instructions while always under the direct supervision of your instructor should help minimize injury risk.
Especially when someone is new to the sport, martial arts should be practiced with a lot of caution while in the proper environment with an experienced teacher. If you suspect a concussion or serious injury after a practice or match, seek medical attention immediately—and in the case of muscle or joint aches or difficulty moving an arm or leg, a sports medicine specialist will be able to provide the necessary care and recovery plan.