Mixed Martial Arts or MMA combines martial arts influences from disciplines practiced all over the world. Participants in MMA bouts fight with a limited set of rules to earn points awarded by judges. Fights can also end by force if a fighter causes his or her opponent to lose consciousness, surrender the fight, or sustain too much injury.
Both fighting and training are hard on the human body. To tip the scale in their favor, fighters have to train several hours a day. Training includes unusually strenuous exercise as well as sparring, in which fighters practice real fighting techniques in a simulated combat environment.
Fighting causes both short-term and long-term problems for MMA fighters.
Short-term injuries are those that, while they may take time to heal, generally don’t cause permanent damage.
The incredible amounts of pressure and force that fighters have to exert to take down their highly trained challengers leaves them vulnerable to fractures. These breaks happen most commonly on:
Throwing a punch is an MMA fighter’s most basic maneuver and an effective offense while standing. A well-placed cross or uppercut can spell instant victory for a fighter. However, full-force blows can cause knuckles and thin bones to break when they make contact with a strong skeleton.
MMA fighters who employ kicks have to train their bones to be extraordinarily resilient. Training often consists of kicking solid, standing objects directly with the shinbone to toughen the skin and muscle that protect the bone. But even a well-trained shin can break easily if a kick is hard enough.
A decisive finishing move for MMA fighters trained in jiu-jitsu is the arm bar. The arm bar places astonishing pressure on opposing points of the arm as it stretches in an unnatural way. Hyperextended bones in the arm cannot resist the pressure and tend to break easily with enough force.
Long-term injuries are those that affect a fighter well after the injury has been sustained and healed.
ACL, MCL, and PCL Injuries
Hyperfast movements and daring athletic feats that are regular in MMA push the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the medial collateral ligaments to their limits. Weakening and scarring of ligaments create issues with everyday tasks. The already limited movement of ligaments becomes more limited after they are forced to heal, creating problems with stiffness and pain that last a long time.
Jumping, kicking, and punching are hard on your joints – but taking damage is even harder. The cartilage that protects the joints of MMA fighters wears extremely quickly once the joints begin having to compensate for injuries, loss of balance, and direct impact. Fighters may experience joint discomfort for years after injury.
A concussion is a brain injury that causes loss of consciousness. Concussions are so common in MMA that many fighters do not consider them a serious issue. Some professional fighters are so dedicated to their sport that they participate despite never receiving clearance from a doctor. They can cause permanent brain damage if left untreated.
To prevent permanent damage, fighters should seek medical help at the first sign of injury. Even injuries that seem insignificant can cause pain and immobility later on.