Boxing as a sport is renowned for its risks, but practising it regularly needn't cause injury if you take the right precautions. In this article about boxing for beginners, we are going to explore the best ways to practice boxing safely, from preparing for intense training sessions to full contact sparring, and the kit you’ll need to do it.
Sprains are painful. They can put you out of training for a while, and even affect your day job depending on what you do. The three main areas susceptible to sprains are your ankles, wrists and thumbs.
As boxing involves a lot of directional changes, rolling your ankle can easily cause a sprain. This can be avoided with a good pair of boxing boots that add support to your ankles. Your thumbs and wrists are exposed when you’re on the punch bags, so hand wraps and closed thumb boxing gloves will go some way to help avoid injury.
Any sport that involves head impact will have an element of concussion risk. A concussion is very serious, and repeated concussion can lead to permanent brain damage. Avoiding it when practising boxing is simple. You either wear a head guard, which offers added padding during sparring or just avoid sparring altogether.
Cuts and bruises
As boxing is a full-contact sport, you can expect plenty of cuts and bruises, even more so in disciplines such as Muay Thai where you use your legs to block, along with knees and elbows to strike. Choosing the correct safety equipment such as leg pads, head guards and gloves will go some way to help you avoid any major cuts and heavy bruising.
Hand and nose fractures are the most common in any type of boxing. The nose is a sensitive part of the body and an opponent will always aim for it. There is very little protection other than just ducking and moving out of the way so working on your defence is key to avoiding nose strikes.
Hand fractures come from high impact punching. In most cases when you are working out at your local gym or home, hand wraps (applied correctly) and boxing gloves keep you free from breaks. It is often more intense real-fight situations that cause serious fractures. If you have fragile hands due to an old injury, take advice from your doctor before boxing.
Performing a Good Warm-Up
Like any physical activity, boxing requires a thorough warm-up. In general, before any session, your coach or trainer will have you skipping. Skipping requires movement on your toes, much like a boxer in the ring, and rotation of the wrists, which are foundations of any good punch.
Once you have done 5-10 minutes skipping, it's wise to go for a short run to get your heart rate up whilst working your lungs. A run doesn't have to be over a huge distance, between 2-3 km is fine. Just make sure it's not a doddle and put in some real effort.
After you have warmed up chances are some point you will get onto the pads. Before undertaking any pad work, bag work or sparring you will need a few essential pieces of kit that you will find in this article here.
Full Contact and Sparring Safely
The biggest chance of injury in boxing comes when you go head to head with an opponent, whether it is someone at your gym or an adversary in a full-contact contest. There are a few parts of the body that need extra protection so you will need to consider the following.
Also known as a box, groin protection is made to keep your lower regions free from stray hooks. They can also add padding to your lower stomach, and it is boxing law that any amateur or professional fighter, in an official contest, must wear one.
If you are practising Muay Thai or kickboxing, your groin protection will be a lot smaller to free up leg movement for kicks and blocking so be sure to buy the right one for your respective discipline.
Face Protection Jelly
When you see a boxer or MMA fighter on the TV, they seem to shine under the lights. But this is not to make them look better, it's actually to cause their opponent's shots to slide off their face and body. Petroleum jelly or vaseline is generally used and applied before a contest and between rounds. Be mindful that if too much is put onto your face or body in an official contest, a referee will point you back to the corner to remove the excess.
As there is a lot of stretching when kicking and blocking in both kickboxing and Muay Thai, a well-applied heat liniment to the legs can really help avoid muscle strains. In a full combat situation, fighters will also apply this to their arms and torso.