Fencing Injuries – How to Avoid Them
Fencing is one of those sports that require a lot of strength, balance, and motor control. You need to be quick, efficient, and smooth with your movement to avoid being hit and be able to attack at any time. Though fencing is regarded as one of the safest sport in terms of injuries, the quick, explosive movements put a lot of strain on your various muscles and joints. This makes fencing a sport which has a range of injuries to different body parts. Since you can’t enjoy the fun and joy of fencing when you’re injured, you should learn how to avoid these injuries.
What are the common fencing injuries?
Apart from the obvious cuts and bruises from being hit with your opponent’s weapons, one of the most common fencing injuries is ankle sprain. Most commonly, this happens when you fall out of the playing field or if you step on your opponent’s foot.
There are more serious injuries that come about from fencing. These are generally classed as repetitive strain injuries. Repetitive lunging, using of your arm to attack your opponent, and jumping or hopping to dodge opponents all cause strain to different parts of your body. Some of the most common injuries are:
- Back pain
- Elbow tendonitis (more commonly known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow)
- Anterior knee pain
- Hamstring strain
- Achilles tendinopathy/rupture
What should I do to avoid injuries?
While, as a physiotherapist, we deal with getting you back to competing at the highest level, the best person to advise you on how you should train to avoid injuries is your coach. We have consulted with David Chan, head coach of Asgard Fencing Club, on how he keeps his students free of injuries. There are three things that he recommends you should do to avoid injuries.
- Do proper strengthening – lower back, glutes (buttocks), adductors, hamstrings muscles. Most young athletes do not appreciate this process and are sloppy when doing the exercises, thus minimising the effect. Having strong lower back, buttocks, adductors, and hamstrings muscles help you to absorb the forces that your body must go through. This minimises the chance that you develop repetitive strain injuries.
- Balance is often lacking because kids are not exposed to sport and games on a regular basis. As such, their proprioception (sense of where the joints are) is often lacking. Proprioception exercises are therefore required to reduce ankle sprains. Kids should also be involved in multisport programs for good balance and spatial awareness.
- Muscle release – Fencers also need to be diligent to allocate time to releasing the usual tight areas like calves and ITB. Everyone should have a trigger ball and know how to use it. Leaving the muscles tight makes it much more likely that you develop achilles tendonitis or anterior knee pain. If you have difficulty in keeping your muscles loose, a regular sports massage session may be good for you.
As usual, we hope that you gain something from reading this. Contact us should you have any questions. Follow us on instagram for useful exercises.