Injury Treatment

A Martial Artist’s Guide to Hip Health: Know What Damages Them, How to Strengthen Them!

Martial arts training can place more stress on the hips than any other sport. Therefore, it’s crucial that all practitioners familiarize themselves with the most common types of hip injuries, as well as the causes, treatments and, most important, strategies for preventing them. Doing so not only will enhance your physical performance in the short term but also will ensure a healthy martial arts career that spans decades.

Dr. Robert Klapper, the clinical chief of orthopedic surgery at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, is an innovator in the field of joint care. The author of a book titled Heal Your Hips: How to Prevent Hip Surgery, he’s patented many new surgical instruments designed to perform hip arthroscopy and has successfully treated celebrity athletes such as basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain and former middleweight karate champion Chuck Norris.

“The martial arts are the No. 1 cause of injuries to the knee and hip, particularly amongst older athletes such as those in their 30s and 40s,” Klapper says. “I am seeing an epidemic of hip replacements, especially in those over 50.” He identifies the roundhouse kick as the most common culprit.

Photo by Peter Lueders

Those problems, along with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, are caused by the dislocation of the labrum, a crucial tissue within the joint capsule that’s housed in the pelvic bone. Attached to the capsule and labrum, which are closely tied to the meniscus in the joint, are the large muscles of the thigh and hip.

“When a person executes these [kicking] movements, particularly with great force, the labrum can be shifted or pulled out of place within the capsule if he does not possess a high level of muscular strength [and] flexibility or if he performs the movement incorrectly,” Klapper says. “This is the single greatest cause of martial arts hip injuries.”

“Karate Sensei: Should They Be Respected or Feared by Students?” Download this free guide now!

Recognizing the signs of injury is crucial, Klapper says. “Athletes come to me when they are having pain in or around their hips and point to one of three areas: their groin, their side hip area (the pocket) or their buttock. Groin pain means damage to the hip, the pocket means it is bursitis or tendonitis, and the buttock indicates the injury is to the lower spine.”

He recommends that anyone who experiences pain or soreness in that area immediately consult a physician. “Athletes wait too long to seek help for a potential injury because of the no-pain-no-gain ethic of some martial arts,” he says. “Successfully treating your body is about listening to it on a daily basis, not waiting for it to shout.”

Photo by Robert Reiff

Perhaps more important than recognizing the symptoms is implementing a plan of action that will enable you to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Klapper endorses the following strategies:

•     Control your weight and body-fat levels.

•     Maintain appropriate strength and flexibility for your activities.

•     Avoid running and other hard, repetitive-impact movements.

•     Engage in balance training such as tai chi chuan, especially if you’re older.

•     Take a vitamin C supplement because it’s the main antioxidant responsible for joint health.

•     Try recumbent biking and water workouts to improve your conditioning.

“Water workouts are of particular benefit not only in preventing hip injuries but in treating them, as well,” Klapper says. “Warm water, up to about navel height, affords an opportunity for your joints to be almost weightless, and it provides many unique angles and loads of resistance.”

Click here to get a free guide titled “MMA Workouts 101: How to Start an MMA Conditioning Program for More Effective MMA Techniques and Self-Defense Moves.”

Finally, consider how well your art matches your physiology. “If you have a joint and bone structure that is not well-suited to the sport, the joints will begin to deteriorate much sooner and at a greater rate,” Klapper warns. If that’s the case, you may want to switch to a gentler style.

Pat Pollock is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer and Thai-boxing instructor.

“Stay in the Fight” Author Danny Dring Talks About Martial Arts Injury Recovery

Stay in the Fight author Danny Dring performs the splits.

Every fighter knows injury, but we don’t always know what to do with it.

We need practical instruction and inspiring motivation to give us confidence and direction in order to deal with our martial arts injuries and continue our martial lives.

Most of all, we need hope that we aren’t forever sidelined, and we need to be given that hope by people who understand firsthand what it means to be an injured fighter.

Unlike other books by sports medicine professionals, Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury is presented from the perspective of the martial artist, from personal experience and from the heart of the warrior athlete.

MARTIAL ARTS INJURY-RECOVERY INTERVIEW VIDEO
“Stay in the Fight” Co-Author Danny Dring on the Impetus and Purpose of His Book



Get “fit to fight” with this FREE download!
MMA Workouts 101: How to Start an MMA Conditioning Program for
More Effective MMA Techniques and Self-Defense Moves


Whether you are dealing with injury that is severe or mild, wanting to avoid injury as you train or dealing with the inevitable effects of aging, we want to see your martial life extended and enhanced. We hope that through the work of Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury, you will be well-equipped, all fired up and ready to be proactive, go on the offensive and attack your unacceptable circumstances with the same heart and zeal that makes you a martial artist in the first place.

In 25 years of martial arts competing, training and school operations, Danny Dring has seen and experienced a constant procession of injuries but found little in the way of an organized or well-rounded methodology for treating athletes and getting them back to the training they love. As a martial artist and writer, Johnny D. Taylor also knew firsthand the struggle of injury recovery, the myriad of questions that an injury brings and the difficulty of finding a good source for solutions.

After an experimental hip-resurfacing procedure enabled Dany Dring to return to hard-core training, he began to get correspondence and emails from injured people all around the country and he found that he was not alone. Their chief concern: Is there any hope for me to return to athleticism?

Together, we realized that between our own personal experience in both physical and mental conditioning and with Danny Dring’s array of high-caliber contacts in the martial arts world, we had the makings for a much-needed and very helpful book. The prospect of helping thousands of martial athletes extend their career, whether professional or amateur, excited us very much.

We wanted a book that was more than lecture and more than how-to exercises. We wanted to offer our readers a comprehensive, actionable strategy that they could apply and work through to see real results in increased athleticism and wellness.

Through a series of long interviews and discussions about the various topics covered in this book, Danny Dring’s personal philosophy and experiences in the area of injury and recovery were gathered. We also sought out the most qualified professionals we had access to through Danny Dring’s friends and colleagues.

Through further interviews, we gathered the best wisdom of martial arts legends Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace, Brazilian jiu-jitsu superstar Robson Moura, Renegade coach John Davies, Dr. David Klein, NAPMA writer Mark Graden and sports therapist Mark Young. These extremely knowledgeable men graciously gave us the benefit of not only their expertise but also their own personal stories of injury and recovery. We are grateful for their willingness to enrich Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury and the reader’s experience therewith.


Joe Lewis recalls his glory days training with Bruce Lee and
competing on the circuit in this FREE download!
Joe Lewis: How the Bruce Lee Training Method
Made Him — and Can Make YOU — a Better Fighter


We have done our best to produce a volume that not only informs but inspires, motivates and moves the reader to instant, beneficial action through a customized plan of execution. The material is arranged as much as possible in chronological order from initial injury to fullest possible recovery, first dealing with the physical aspects and then the mental disciplines necessary for optimal health and athleticism.

As you work your way through Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury, it is important that your study include all areas covered and that you complete the “Fightsheet” work pages included for each chapter. They comprise your personalized action plan for your own return to maximized martial athleticism. Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury also features sidebars, graphics, quotes and other special features to not …

Shoulder Injuries: Has Pain Stopped Your Martial Arts Training?

I recently saw a fit 74-year-old patient who’d practiced wing chun and tai chi for many years. He came to me because of shoulder pain that was bothering him during the performance of his everyday activities. Even doing slow tai chi forms was problematic because he couldn’t raise his arms above his shoulders anymore. He feared he’d no longer be able to practice or teach his arts.

His X-rays revealed significant shoulder arthritis — so much so that the bone was eroding. My concern was that if he continued putting stress on his shoulders, he’d soon have a permanent disability that affected every aspect of his life. It was difficult to advise him to stop training, but his condition was so severe, I couldn’t let him act in a way that would further the deterioration.

The patient informed me that he’d trained old school all his life. He’d punch a concrete wall every day, and he had knuckles to show for it. To strengthen his bong sao, he’d tie weights to his arms before working out. He said he did these and similar exercises up to three times a day.


Could you have survived Mas Oyama’s outdoor training regimen?
Find out in this FREE download!
History of Karate: Inside Mas Oyama’s Hard-Core Kyokushin
Karate Conditioning Program


That raised many questions in my mind:
  • Did his workouts cause his current problem?
  • How much abuse can the human body tolerate before structures start to break down?
  • How should martial artists regulate their training intensity?

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers.

Shoulder Injuries: Overview of Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis occurs when the cartilage on the humeral head (ball of the joint) and glenoid (socket) wears out. In severe cases, the joint space is lost, and the bones grind against each other. There are several causes of shoulder arthritis, including trauma, inflammation (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), a large/massive rotator-cuff tear and primary degeneration. No matter the cause, the end result is loss of joint functionality.

People with the problem usually feel pain and stiffness. The pain can be mild and associated only with activity, or it can be noticeable even while resting and may wake a person at night. Stiffness also becomes a problem with everyday activities; sometimes it’s so severe the person can’t reach the top of his head or back.

Diagnosing Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder arthritis is diagnosed after a physician obtains a history, performs a physical exam and reviews the X-rays. Initial treatment involves pain management with analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication, lifestyle modification to avoid activities that aggravate the condition and gentle stretching exercises to avoid progression of the stiffness.

Treating Shoulder Injuries

Painkillers may control the pain enough for the person to continue training. Martial artists will often try to tough it out, ignoring shoulder pain and opting not to use medication. That’s ill-advised. The condition can worsen, and the pain can become so severe that training is impossible.

If the pain cannot be controlled with medication, cortisone may be prescribed. It’s a strong anti-inflammatory that’s injected into the joint. The main risk, albeit a low one, associated with the treatment is infection. The injection should be performed via sterile technique, preferably in a clinic at a hospital. The duration of relief varies. Some patients report lessened pain for a year or more, while others say they notice an improvement only for a few weeks. On occasion, people find no pain relief at all.

Another type of injection, called viscosupplementation, is designed to lubricate the joint. Why does that help? Because arthritis also entails the “drying up” of the joint, meaning that the normal fluid that circulates in it is lost. Therefore, supplemental lubrication can provide relief — according to studies, it’s usually a short- to medium-term duration. It may be delivered as a single-dose injection or in multiple doses, often three given at one-week intervals.


Get fit to fight with this FREE download!
MMA Workouts 101: How to Start an MMA Conditioning Program for
More Effective MMA Techniques and Self-Defense Moves


Dealing With Shoulder Injuries

If one of the aforementioned treatments helps manage the pain, the afflicted person will want to resume training. I usually advise my patients not to engage in intense workouts because excessive force placed on the shoulder can worsen the condition. I then explain the importance of daily stretching and range-of-motion exercises to counteract the stiffness. The goal, of course, is to prolong the life span of the joint by slowing the deterioration.

If nonoperative treatment fails, surgery may be required. The definitive treatment is shoulder replacement. That involves removing the arthritic surfaces of the joint and replacing them with metal and plastic components. After such a procedure, I always advise against any martial arts practice. Some surgeons, in fact, will perform a shoulder replacement only on sedentary …

How to Overcome Martial Athletic Injuries (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This is a continuation from Part 1 of BlackBeltMag.com’s guide to overcoming martial athletic injuries. For more information on this topic, consult the co-authors’ full-color book: Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury.

Think Holistic When Considering Treatment of Martial Athletic Injuries

To optimize healing and your state of mind during recovery from martial athletic injuries, you must address as many components of health and wellness as possible. The six primary components are the following:

  • Strength: Ask your doctor when and how you can lift weights or do resistance exercises.
  • Cardiovascular health: Also ask to what degree you can maintain your endurance level.
  • Flexibility: The inactivity often associated with recovery from martial athletic injuries doesn’t always have to result in a loss of flexibility. In fact, you may find that you now have time to focus on it.
  • Nutrition: Your body has been traumatized by an injury and requires top-notch nutrition to rebuild. The best diet is complete in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Take time to study what you need and then consume it.
  • Hydration: Every athlete knows the importance of water in a workout, so don’t let inactivity result in dehydration. Keep the water flowing.
  • Rest: The best healing and the best attitude require the best rest. During your recuperation time, you may discover that a sufficient amount of deep, undisturbed sleep will not only heal your body more quickly but also refresh your mind.

Get “fit to fight” with this FREE download!
MMA Workouts 101: How to Start an MMA Conditioning Program for
More Effective MMA Techniques and Self-Defense Moves


Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude Toward Your Martial Athletic Injuries

The ultimate goal is to experience the opposite of depression — and that’s a positive mental attitude. Having such an attitude about your health — knowing that you’re being proactive in the process and exercising some control over it — will help you feel better and heal faster from your martial athletic injuries.

If you’re fired up about your therapy or your training-around-the-injury workout, you’re more likely to do the work that’s required to recover from martial athletic injuries.

So acquire the necessary tools: motivational books, tapes, magazines, videos, buddies or whatever works for you. Then intentionally build your positive mental attitude. Like a muscle, your attitude will respond to such exercise by growing stronger.

Voice Your Attitude

Words are powerful mental programs, so take care to be positive in all that you say.

When you talk about your martial athletic injuries or recuperation therefrom, intentionally speak in positive terms. You need to hear yourself talk about the gains you’ve made and how much worse it could have been. Be attentive to that little voice inside your head and make it a source of optimism. If you convince your mind that you’re healing, your body will believe it and act accordingly.

Don’t Obsess Over Your Martial Athletic Injuries

Is there more to you than your injury? Is there more to life than your athletic endeavors?

Of course there is! So embrace those aspects while you recuperate.

If you catch yourself always thinking or talking about your martial athletic injuries, your healing, your goals — in short, yourself — stop it! Nobody likes a self-absorbed person, not even you. You may find that your downtime gives you an opportunity to focus on others and be productive in different areas.

Tell Your Doctor

Be sure you talk to your health-care professional about your state of mind in addition to the state of your body. He can’t help with your overall health unless he knows your overall condition. Don’t let continued or chronic depression related to your martial athletic injuries go unaddressed.

Laugh Yourself Happy

What makes you laugh? Is it movies, TV shows, books, comics or friends? Well, get what tickles you and enjoy. A good dose of laughter not only lifts your mood but also releases those mood-elevating chemicals you get from a workout. Laughter really is good medicine.

Celebrate Small Victories in Your Recovery From Martial Athletic Injuries

Is it your first step since your injury — literally, your first step? Then throw a party!

Did you just complete your first lap in the rehab pool? Rejoice!

Are you finished with your first round of medicine? Reward yourself!

Find a way to mark your progress so it builds a positive mental attitude and makes your life more fun.

You’re getting better, so be glad!

Remember that while you’re an injured athlete, you’re still an athlete. Moreover, there will always be more to you than just your athletic ability. So stay positive, stay busy, take control and take heart.

Fight against depression the same way you’ve fought against other opponents …

How to Overcome Martial Athletic Injuries (Part 1)

Sidelined. Restricted activity. Surgery. Therapy.

Those words have the power to drag down the spirits of any martial artist. When you’ve been taken out of your game by sickness or injury, you discover a whole new team of opponents standing between you and your rapid return to training and competition. And the longer it takes to get back in the game, the more prone you are to experiencing injury-related depression.

Depression, that energy-sapping, happiness-stealing frame of mind, is almost certain to visit any athlete who’s been sidelined because of injury. And it will kick you while you’re down. So be prepared to fight back should you find it attacking you.

Depression During Martial Athletic Injuries

Here are a few reasons injured athletes fall prey to depression:

  • The injury itself: The knowledge that you’re injured is enough to darken your mood.
  • Pain: The chronic pain that accompanies many injuries can wear down your attitude.
  • Months of hard work down the tubes: Inactivity brings atrophy, causing hard-fought gains in physical ability and skill to disappear.

Get “fit to fight” with this FREE download!
MMA Workouts 101: How to Start an MMA Conditioning Program for
More Effective MMA Techniques and Self-Defense Moves


  • Time: The period needed to recover and return to your former levels can be overwhelming if it stretches to months or even years.
  • Missed opportunities: The goals you’ve set for yourself in competition or personal achievement are suddenly out of reach.
  • Endorphin withdrawal: Your regular workouts have provided you with natural mood-elevating chemicals. Being injured means no workout, and no workout means no endorphins.

Fight Back From Your Martial Athletic Injuries!

But enough of the bad news. It’s more beneficial to discuss ways to defeat depression, recover from your martial athletic injuries and get back into training. Here’s how to start:

  • Don’t deny — identify: If you ignore your martial athletic injuries, they won’t go away. And if you’re not impervious to injury, then neither are you immune to depression. You can’t deal with it until you recognize and acknowledge it.
  • Don’t quit: An injured athlete is still an athlete and should act accordingly. You didn’t quit when the workouts got hard, and you won’t quit when your athletic career faces the unexpected challenges that martial athletic injuries and depression present.
  • Take responsibility for your athletic injuries and your response to them: It’s your body, mind, career and injury. You must take responsibility for your healing, and that includes your attitude. Medical professionals have their roles to play, but ultimately the responsibility for health and healing lies with you.
  • Be proactive in your recovery from martial athletic injuries: Regaining a sense of control is mentally therapeutic, so instead of passively waiting for your body to heal, get involved and develop a plan of action.

Form a Plan to Recover From Your Martial Athletic Injuries

A blueprint for healing will help you focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t do. It’ll help you direct your energies toward achieving as quick a recovery as possible. Just having a plan will go a long way toward lifting the weight of injury-related depression. Your blueprint should include the following actions:

Redefine Your Goals for Recovery From Martial Athletic Injuries

Most martial artists are goal oriented and have used that characteristic to reach their current level of health, rank or competition. You should tap into that same power to speed your healing. Set new goals for yourself such as consistently attending rehab or therapy sessions as directed by your doctor.

Get Smart!

If you’re going to become proactive during the process of healing from your martial athletic injuries, you’ll need to arm yourself with all the information you can get. Study your injury and the schools of thought surrounding it. Learn the treatment options available. Discover which medical professionals in your area specialize in your type of injury. Find out what your body requires to heal and do all you can to provide it.

Work Around the Injury

Not all martial athletic injuries require bed rest, so ask your doctor what you can and cannot do. Questions about your martial athletic injuries might include the following:

  • If your shoulder is jacked up, can you get in a lower-body workout?
  • If your knee is torqued, can you work your upper body?
  • How can you train around your injury, allowing it the inactivity it needs to heal while still working your uninjured parts?
  • Can you swim or ride a stationary bike?
  • Can you work your abs?
  • What about developing flexibility?

There is much to be said for creative cross-training and the benefits it will bring. You may find that a return to working out, regardless of how strenuous or unconventional it is, creates a new sense of mission, a hedge against atrophy, a …