Taekwondo is a form of martial art that originated in Korea and is one of the oldest forms of martial art in the world. The name literally means ‘the art of the foot and the fist’ and as with any sport, there is a risk of injury. Injuries from participating in Taekwondo vary in severity, but here we look at some of the most common injuries, how to deal with them and essentially, how they can be avoided in the first place.
Although they are relatively rare, when you are participating in a contact sport such as Taekwondo, broken or fractured bones are always a possibility. Such injuries usually occur to the toes and fingers and are most common in people who are doing the sport at a relatively high level. By ensuring that you have warmed up properly and that you are well trained in avoiding kicks and blocking, you will be doing all you can to try and avoid this sort of injury. Most injuries to fractured fingers and toes can be treated at home and will heal within 4-6 weeks. In the most severe cases, hospital treatment and possibly surgery may be required in order to fix the break. Where a competitor fractures their wrist surgery may be required depending on the type of break but the wrist will be immobilised with a cast in the first instance and then potentially moved to a wrist support for additional protection during rehabilitation.
Injuries to joints and muscles
It is all too easy to pull or strain muscles when taking part in a sport such as Taekwondo. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including not warming up properly or stretching incorrectly or too much. The muscles which are most susceptible to injury while doing this sort of sport are calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps. Back injuries are also common due to the sort of movement involved in Taekwondo. Injuries to muscles can range from a strain which may only take a day or two to heal with lots of rest and ice, to a complete tear which is not only painful, but which can take much longer to recover from. Injuries to joints are also common, with elbows, knees and ankles being the most at risk. If you suffer an injury to any of these joints, it is important to see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Injuries to ankles and knees
Ankle and knee injuries are common in Taekwondo, with sprains to both of these joints being the most common. As outlined above, it is important to consult with a medical professional, but the usual course of treatment will be plenty of rest, ice and assistance with walking, such as the use of crutches or a performance ankle support or knee support. If these are followed, you should be able to return to the sport far more quickly and you know that your injury will have healed properly.
Bruising and aching
Bruising and aching are both common occurrences for people who take part in Taekwondo. Bruising can happen accidentally and can mostly be avoided by wearing the correct sort of protective clothing. Generally, bruises are not painful and do not last long, but if you have a bruise that doesn’t fade or is very painful, you should seek medical advice. Aching muscles can just be a result of using muscles for a significant amount of time. There is no ‘miracle’ cure for this, but symptoms can be eased by making sure you warm up properly and do plenty of stretching.
A compressive sleeve or performance support can help with managing bruising and muscle injuries, with the compression helping to manage pain.
These are probably the most serious type of injury, but suffering a concussion is something that can happen in any sort of martial art or contact sport. In Taekwondo, kicks to the head are not allowed where children are competing or where people are taking part in the division that involves the award of coloured belts. However, if you compete at a senior or higher level, then kicks to the head are permitted and concussion can be suffered, even if you are wearing the correct protective headgear. In the event of suffering a head injury, the most important thing is to monitor the person who has suffered the injury, as some signs of concussion may not present themselves for a few days after the incident. Any person who has suffered a head injury should not take part in this type of sport for at least 3 weeks.
By following a few simple rules, some of the injuries outlined above can be avoided, or the risk of them significantly diminished. Whether you are training or competing, it is important to make sure you are wearing the correct protective clothing and that it all fits you properly. Make sure you do sufficient warming up exercises and muscle stretching and recognise that there will be limits to what you can and can’t do, depending on your age, experience and whether you are coming back from an injury. Tell the Taekwondo instructor if you feel unwell or don’t feel you can do a particular thing and make sure that you heed medical advice about when to return to training if you have suffered an injury.