by Sensei Peter Leitch
October, 1996

Few of us have had the good fortune to have never been injured at one time or another in ourlives. Serious injuries are not just painful and inconvenient. Neglected, they can have a real andlasting negative effect on our overall physical and mental health.

Perhaps understandably, the last thing a person with an injury considers doing is continuing withtheir training in karate, especially if the injury occurred during a karate work-out. In fact, certaininjuries may dictate this.

Whether the injury occurred inside or outside the dojo, continuing to attend regular karateworkouts should be possible provided a few important steps are taken.

Firstly, any serious injury, or any injury causing acute, unfamiliar or sustained pain must receiveprompt medical attention. A doctor or chiropracter will be able to prescribe the necessarytreatment and make any special recommendations regarding reduced physical activity.

Secondly, get to know your injury and the limits it places on you. Your doctor or chiropracterwill be able to help you with this, but with a little effort, you will develop an intimate anddetailed knowledge of what makes "it" hurt.

Thirdly, avoid doing whatever it is that makes "it" hurt! Rest your injury; work around it duringyour regular karate training. If you have injured your right hand, spar only with your left. If youhave twisted an ankle, concentrate on the timing of your punches and forget footwork for awhile.

Though this step appears to be the most sensible, it is often the most difficult to follow. Andoverlooking this step could prolong the heeling process or even make the injury worse.

Lastly, it is very important to persist with your efforts at recovery, and to be patient doing so.Don't despair! Remember that it takes time for your body to recover. Depending on the injury,recovery may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to many months of regular physiotherapy. Don't be discouraged! Keep your sights on the end result and note each tiny improvement, nomatter how small, in your fight to recover.

If it becomes necessary to take few weeks away from karate, then do so. But try to stay involvedwith your organization by, for example, volunteering your help at tournaments and other events.Any help with the newsletter would be warmly welcomed! There are many good books to be readon the topic of Martial Arts, and a physical break from the sport may just provide the perfectopportunity to catch up on a little reading. If you are able, practice your breathing exercises. Theimportance of this skill is often underestimated, and any effort you devote to its learning will berewarded. Go through your katas in your head. This is an excellent mental exercise and helps tokeep the karateka in touch with his or her skills.

Overcoming obstacles are a fundamental part of the challenge of learning karate. Recovering from an injury will make you a stronger karateka both mentally and physically.

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