Prevent Striking Injuries

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Q: Technique aside, what is your prescription for combat sport athletes looking to prevent injury from striking? To clarify; when myself and a few of my boxing brethren hit the super-heavy bag, or the firm thai pads, we often feel the reverberation in our arms and rear delts. Personally, I have an injury to my left shoulder, which means any impact reverberation is extra bad and cuts my workouts down to about three minutes (less if I’m doing low hooks).

I know that some of the others have similar problems, mine is just more acute thanks to the bum shoulder. I don’t feel this when hitting other people, or the softer bags, only the heavy duty, or extra thick ones. If you have any suggestions as to what work we should do to prevent this turning into injury, we’d all appreciate it.

A: Something interesting for you. I work with a local high profile theatrical performance group that involves a lot of drumming. These guys have more upper extremity issues than anyone I’ve ever seen – baseball players included – and that’s a really screwed up population). Is striking a thai pad anything more than a really hard drumming stroke in terms of the force dissipation?

I’ve had good success with those guys with getting maximal strength up; check out this article where I talk about the role of maximal strength in the law of repetitive motion (“F” is expressed as a percentage of maximal strength; get tissue stronger, and each rep is perceived as less challenging overall). In particular, I’m talking strength of the elbow flexors (biceps, etc), upper back, “core,” and larger muscles from the hip-down.

Soft tissue work is huge at the forearms/elbow (flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor carpi radialis, pronator teres, anconeus) and shoulder (pec minor, long head of triceps, coracobrachialis, subscapularis, infraspinatus/teres minor, and levator scapulae).

I love the movements on the Inside-Out DVD; we’ve used it with great success.

Tags: shoulder pain, combat athletes, drumming, baseball, Inside-Out, boxing, heavy bag