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Lower Limb Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts

by MASS4D® Prescription Orthotics December 24, 2017

Lower Limb Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts (MMA) refers to a fast-paced combat sport that incorporates a broad range of fighting styles such as boxing, Muay Thai, karate, jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, etc. between two martial art experts in competitive events.

Athletes employ numerous sparring, striking and grappling techniques in an attempt to overpower the opponent and win a fight or match. Such matches are organised in caged settings and are decided by submission, knockout, technical knockout, disqualification or a decision win.

Several medical associations such as the Canadian Medical Association and the British Medical Association have expressed concern over the high risk of extreme physical injury prevalent during MMA. As a result, systematic reviews and studies have been conducted to determine the epidemiology of injuries sustained in the sport.

Appropriate measures have been taken over the years to ensure the safety of MMA fighters during competitions such as the “Mixed Martial Arts Uniform Rules of Conduct” which stipulates a list of 25 prohibited acts including throat attacks, stomping a grounded fighter and head-butting.


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While the head and neck are often identified as high-risk locations for MMA injuries, it is also necessary to gain a better understanding of the type of injuries occurring in the lower extremity to help develop effective injury prevention strategies.

McClain et al. examined the injury profiles of mixed martial arts competitors during 711 MMA bouts held across various sports venues in Kansas and Missouri, amongst both male and female athletes.

The authors found the rate of injury and types of injury to be similar in both genders, with the most common injuries including lacerations, abrasions, altered mental state and fractures.

Professional athletes were observed to be approximately twice as likely to sustain fractures and lacerations than amateurs; this was partially attributed to longer matches played by professionals which meant greater exposure to injury risks than amateurs.

Lower Limb Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts

A study conducted by Jensen et al. confirmed the lower extremity as the second most frequently injured site during training, following the head/neck. The findings also confirmed a correlation between the anatomical site of injury and the primary martial art style adopted by an MMA athlete.

For instance, significant rates of acute and chronic lower extremity injuries are dominant in Muay Thai fighters because of the heavy reliance on lower extremity striking in this form of sport.

The authors described the frequency of training injuries as exceeding that of competition injuries because of the maximum time spent by an MMA athlete in training, making the prevention of training injuries a top priority among coaches.

A thorough evaluation of foot postural disparities must serve as a necessary inclusion in any rehabilitative programme that is designed to improve functionality and performance; this is essential to decrease an athlete’s predisposition to injuries of the lower extremity as a result of biomechanical anomalies.

MASS4D® custom foot orthotics can be implemented as part of injury-recovery efforts to speed up the healing process and promote ambulation while reducing any postural misalignments that can further add excessive stress to the lower extremity of the individual.

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Related Links

Managing Stress Fractures with Orthotics
Rehabilitation as an Integrated Approach
How A Bad Foot Posture Causes Misalignments

References:

  1. Jensen, A. R., Maciel, R. C., Petrigliano, F. A., Rodriguez, J. P, Brooks, A. G. (2017) Injuries Sustained by the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete. Sports Health: January/February 2017, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 64-69.  DOI: 10.1177/1941738116664860
  2. McClain, R., Wassermen, J., Mayfield, C., Berry, A. C., Grenier, G., Suminski, R. R. (2014) Injury Profile of Mixed Martial Arts Competitors. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: 2014, Vol. 0, No. 0.
  3. Lystad, R. P., Gregory, K., Wilson, J. (2014) The Epidemiology of Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts. The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine: 2014, Vol. 2, No. 1. DOI: 10.1177/2325967113518492 

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