MMA and Shoulder Injuries

Charles L. Getz, M.D. November 1st, 2012

As a kid, I loved watching professional wrestling on Saturday mornings. Now, like a lot of middle aged men, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has replaced pro wrestling as my guilty pleasure action fix. MMA has unbelievable athletes, highly aggressive fights, and rivalries that are not pretend but real. I was also a collegiate wrestler, so I can appreciate amount of training that it takes to obtain the level of conditioning achieved by the fighters.

Interestingly, a lot of guys not only enjoy watching the action but think to themselves that they want to be a part of it. Or they marvel at the muscles and six-packs that the hours of training produce. Either way, I have seen numerous injuries from 30-40ish men who start training MMA get back into shape. I couldn’t agree more that grappling workouts are a great combination of anaerobic and aerobic workouts, but I am concerned about the risks to an office working when they decide to “Go live.”

Shoulder and elbow injuries happen in one of two ways, from an awkward landing or a submission hold. As opposed to collegiate wrestling, which is about controlling the opponent, the goal of live action MMA is to beat the other guy up. This small fact, often gets forgotten after the testosterone get flowing.

I have had the pleasure of taking care of several professional MMA fighters, as well, and they almost consider these injuries as part of the job. So I would tread lightly into live action MMA training unless you are a professional. Tap out quickly when you are clearly about to get the elbow or shoulder locked out. Also, pick your training partners and coaches carefully. You are trusting that they will not get carried away when the action heats up. Or stick with non-combat training, which can produce great physical results with much less risk.

 

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