We’ve been discussing injuries a lot recently, and it seems to have hit a chord with the Grapplearts readership. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I wanted to discuss one more thing before we leave this topic.
One of the most dangerous times in a martial artist’s career is AFTER a serious injury, especially if it involves a lengthy break from training. Far too often I’ve seen a hard-training competitor get injured and start to gain weight, sometimes a lot of weight.
I’ve known fighters who originally fought at 185 shoot up to almost 250 pounds. Some of them eventually get back to pre-injury bodyweight, but it’s always a long and tough road. Others never competed again: they blamed the injury of course, but I think that the specter of getting back in shape had more to do with their decision than they would like to admit.
Of course not all hard-training martial artists are going to react to injury in this way, but it is fairly common. In some ways, the more serious the martial artist is about his training, the more likely it is that this weight gain is going to happen.
Maybe this weight gain is because hard training requires a lot of calories, and injury stops the training but not the daily caloric intake. Maybe it’s because fighters have to stay within 10 to 20 pounds of fighting weight and react to their injury layoff by saying “screw it, KFC and cold beer here I come” . Or maybe it is that many martial artists rely on regular hard training to stay on an even keel emotionally, and when they suddenly can’t train they become depressed and thus prone to weight gain or loss.
If you do have a major injury, keeping an eye on your bodyweight and doing whatever you can to maintain some level of physical conditioning is definitely a good idea. Doing something, anything, will help keep you in shape and make your return to the mats a lot easier.
In addition your physical well-being, keep an eye on your state of mind post injury. I am NOT a psychologist, and I DON’T know what all the answers are, but just because you used to win all the local tournaments doesn’t mean that you’re invulnerable psychologically. Do whatever it takes to keep your mindset as positive as possible while you heal from your injury. A more full discussion of fighters and depression was published by Fighter’s Only Magazine.