View Full Version : Injuries inevitable?

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daniel chong
06-01-2004, 02:16 PM
Hello everyone,
I have been practicing now for about two years, and I've yet to get any serious injuries, although my bad back acts up once in a while. However, it seems as though just about every black belt I speak with has one or more nagging injuries. I also hear about a fair number who have had to give it up almost entirely due to injury. This troubles me. I like aikido a lot, but don't like always having something hurting, and I don't like feeling that with what I'm doing, serious injury is inevitable. I would like some other opinions on this matter. Am I way off base here, or do others feel this way as well?

06-01-2004, 02:32 PM
However, it seems as though just about every black belt I speak with has one or more nagging injuries.

If you see that in your training the abuse of the body takes priority over learning technique, you may want to change where you train.

daniel chong
06-01-2004, 02:35 PM
I never said "abuse to the body takes priority" and I don't think I am a member of an overly aggressive or rough dojo. The part that is so troubling to me is that even though I'm not, many people still get injured.

06-01-2004, 02:40 PM
If you see that in your training the abuse of the body takes priority over learning technique, you may want to change where you train.

Ahh, Aleksey said it much more succintly than I would have.

If you feel yourself pushing to or past the point of injury....don't. My girlfriend is dealing with this where she works. She works in an assembly line factory. Everyone wants to do well and not be the one who slows down the line. Consequently out of the 23 people in her dept. 14 are on some sort of phsyical restriction due to injury. They push and push and push until they hurt themselvs....her included. We've been talking about this for a while and she now goes as fast as she can without hurting herself....and get's nothing but flack from the other people. She's learning to ignore them and now she can lift her arm over her head again...yeah.


Chris Birke
06-01-2004, 02:57 PM
Yes, it's inevitable.

daniel chong
06-01-2004, 02:59 PM
I'm sorry. Maybe you are not getting my point. I'm talking about what seems to me to be an inevitable result of progression in aikido, assuming you don't go about each practice session with the sole intention of not getting hurt. It SEEMS that most people I have spoken with, who have been involved with aikido for a good amount of time, and again aren't going out of their way to keep from being hurt, usually end up with lasting/nagging injuries. The most common of these seem to be knees and backs.

06-01-2004, 03:20 PM
Daniel, your observation is local to your school.
Based on that local observation you seem to be making global assumptions which are not necessarily true.

Certainly, in the dojo I attend, I do not witness the trend of "most black belts having lasting/nagging injuries".
Therefore, I conclude that your observations are not true everywhere, and thus... please see my previous reply.

Jordan Steele
06-01-2004, 03:56 PM
Daniel, injuries will probably occur but they are not inevitable unless you train wrecklessly. Depending on who you are working with and what technique you are practicing you get to decide your comfort level. When you start to train past your ability, the injuries will happen. Be honest with yourself. I have been training for quite a while now and have yet to be injured. I have had the occasional "boo-boo" but never a serious injury that has kept me off the mats for longer than a week.

06-01-2004, 04:11 PM
Injuries are inevitable......for the beginner. This corresponds to lack of ukemi skill. The whole point learning ukemi is to learn how to protect your center. If you protect your center, then when the nage makes a mistake, you can do kaeshiwaza, or if he doesn't, then you can act accordingly to disperse as much force as possible to your body. Until we are very skilled at ukemi, partners must do techniques cooperatively. Learning to do techniques cooperatively as beginners is important because: A.) if the uke resists in a fashion that endangers him and his partner, the nage will probably not have the skill to act accordingly. and B.) even if the nage maintains his center, if he looses connection to the ukes center (and therefore looses control of the uke, and must switch techniques to regain control) the uke can counterattack, and the nage may not act accordingly to keep him and his partner safe.

I have been doing Aikido for about half my life now, going on 7 years. Now, granted I am very young, I am only 20 years old. In my years I have been injured many times. The only serious injuries I have had (from Aikido) are a hyper-extended finger, a dislocated wrist, and maybe something wrong with my elbow (I'm not sure, as I haven't gone to the doctor. I don't think there is much they can do, even if there is bone splinters floating around in there. :) ). ALL of these injuries, including the many many many non serious ones are from bad ukemi. I either didn't move the right way, or not fast enough. Obviously I am still a beginner, and still have a lot to learn before I at least don't hurt myself. :p

I know many blackbelts who train very hard and there isn't much they wont try. There isn't any of this "Oh, I don't take those falls." or "No, I don't like that hip throw", etc. They do what sensei instructs them to do. They all have excellent ukemi. I am sure once in a while, they do take a bad fall, and hurt their shoulder or something. But it is never anything serious. Whenever they have injuries, it is always from extra activities, like gymnastics for example.

So after my long-winded explanation, I conclude that if you train hard on ukemi, in the end you will be ok. Until you have such flawless ukemi that you float to the ground.......be very careful! :dead:


Janet Rosen
06-01-2004, 04:31 PM
I suspect from rereading the thread a couple of times that you are talking about longterm "wear and tear" while many respondants are talking about acute injuries.
There truly are differences.
Some dojos are acute injury magnets, others aren't. 101 dojo took part in my knee injury survey, which asked dojo how many acute knee injuries had been sustained in 5 years. One half had none. The eleven dojo in the "high incidence" group represented less than 5% of the total adult members being reported on, yet accounted for over 30% of the reported acute knee injuries.

Unfortunately, I was not able to quantify chronic, "wear and tear" issues--mainly because most humans don't just do aikido. They ski, they tore something doing soccer 10 years ago, they fall on ice or get in car accidents.
But my educated guess is that an individual's body mechanics/dynamic balance/movement patterns are as much, if not more likely,to influence long term wear and tear than the dojo culture. This is why I emphasize individual students taking the time to learn modern principles of exercise physiology and to not participate in "warm ups" or training that is destructive or high risk, but to adapt for safer practice.

Chris Birke
06-01-2004, 04:53 PM
What this about not particapating in "warm ups"? I've heard mention that stretching is bad before, but I never found any of the lit backing it up.

Is now simply warming up bad too? The stretching... maybe, alright... but not being warmed up, this goes against my own personal expirences. What's the deal with "warm ups"?

Janet Rosen
06-01-2004, 05:16 PM
The problem--which has been discussed in threads here and elsewhere--is that what many dojo call "warming up" is stretching.Bear in mind that many instructors have no background in fitness/exercise and simply repeat the "warmup" they learned x number of years ago.
Cold muscles should not be stretched. It is not clear from research that stretching before training is going to prevent injury, but it is known that stretching cold muscles makes them more prone to tear AND that empirically many of us do feel better in training if we stretch a bit beforehand. So the best scenario would be: warm up, stretch a little, train, stretch more.
Warming up is literally gross movements of the body in all directions that increase blood flow to and raise the temperature of the muscles. Five minutes of brisk walk with moving arms, jumping rope or jumping jacks, getting on exercise bike and also moving the arms about, doing aikido tai sabaki and other movements are all good warmups and the latter of course has the advantage of pertaining to what we are about to do/helps us build muscle memory. So while many dojo I've been in seem to stretch and then do aikido footwork/movement drills, it would be very simple and safer to reverse the order.

The other thing is there are certain movements used in some dojo that are not particularly safe or necessary. For those high risk for meniscus tears (and there is no way to predict this AFAIK), sitting in seiza and lying back is a really bad idea, and there are other ways to stretch the quads and hip and back without doing this maneuver. Bunny hops are pointless stress on hips and knees and ankles.

06-01-2004, 08:04 PM
I would say yes. It seems like wear and tear to me. Also, we don't all start out with good technique. I've heard it said 'pain is the greatest teacher'. I know that when I feel a certain wrench, I'm never going to do THAT again.

06-01-2004, 09:54 PM
In my experience, aikido like any other sport does cause some chronic injuries caused by repetitive use of same movements (tennis elbow for example). Most what I have seen is knee and wrist injuries, followed by perhaps elbow injuries. As for myself, I have noticed that my wear and tear injuries were dramatically reduced to almost non-existent after I reduced my training from 7 to 3 days a week, and also by moving to a dojo where a more dynamic style of aikido is practiced instead of the static style of my previous dojo, where uke were expected to try to block techniques rather than cooperate.

06-02-2004, 12:54 AM
Aikido is an athletic activity, and the capacity to generate injury is always there. It only takes one bad fall to separate a shoulder. But the capacity to injure exists in ANY athletic activity, so if you want to avoid it you should sit on your couch all day. Of course refraining from athletic activity is unhealthier down the road. I think a few back and joint problems now are probably better than the massive heart attack latter.


Ghost Fox
06-02-2004, 07:37 AM
I 've had my fair share (concussion, cracked ribs, bleeding head wounds).

I would say not only is injuy inevitable, but injury is a necessary stage in ones development. I've seen a lot of students walk off the mat, never to return, after a serious injury or return only to become very timid on the mat. Then their are those who return all the stronger and smarter. Learning from their injury and stepping up their game to meet the challenge.