Gareth Southgate’s recent accident got an amused, less than sympathetic response from the country’s media. The unfortunate England football manager had tripped and fallen whilst on a training run through some woods in Russia. “I was just a bit gutted because I was on for my record 10k time” he joked. There was no lack of sympathy from me though.
Having suffered the same dislocated shoulder injury that Southgate experienced, as well as numerous other injuries in various sports, in the past I could definitely relate to his plight. I’ve torn hamstrings and pulled calves sprinting, smashed an ulna and fractured a vertebra in my neck playing rugby but never been injured boxing. Could this mean that boxing is one of the safest fitness activities you can do?
The physical nature of competitive, full contact, boxing clearly involves the occasional injury to the head area but boxing fitness training is much safer. A 2006 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found an injury rate of 2.0 per 1000 hours of competitive boxing with 75% of this figure being to the head region. We can extrapolate from this that non-contact, boxing fitness training would produce a single injury from every two thousand hours of training!
The potential injuries that might occur during a boxing fitness session (almost exclusively to the hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder) are nearly completely avoidable. So, what needs to be done to keep potential injuries down to a minimum?
1) Warm up: Muscles and joints are much less susceptible to injury once warmed up thoroughly.
2) Correct equipment: Boxing gloves are an obvious choice and hand wraps (to support the wrists and various bones of the hand) are highly recommended to regular boxing fitness class attendees.
3) Correct technique: technically correct punches thrown from a nicely balanced stance and returned to a high guard will standardise movements and create muscle memory that will ensure injuries are less likely even when mentally fatigued.
4) Pad holding technique: A pad holder has as much responsibility as the puncher when it comes to being in tune with the combinations being thrown and how he or she receives them. Poor pad holding technique can create injuries to both people involved.
5) Mental focus/ Concentration: A lack of concentration, particularly considering punching is involved, can create timing problems that could cause unnecessary strains or sprains.
Its clear then, if you use the right equipment and learn the correct techniques, boxing fitness sessions will get you fit without the worry of being like Gareth Southgate and turning up for work in a sling!